Rostov maintain unblemished record at Fleury’s expenseArticle
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MATCH REVIEW: Confident Russian side steer three points clear of second-placed FTC in the Women’s EHF Champions League Main Round Group 1, after completing the 27:22 rout in France

Rostov maintain unblemished record at Fleury’s expense

Rostov remain top of Group 1 with 13 points, while Fleury are still looking for their first Main Round victory stay on four.


Fleury Loriet Handball (FRA) vs Rostov-Don (RUS) 22:27 (13:10)

The 27:22 victory was largely due to Rostov’s the second half improvement, as Jan Leslie’s utilised transitional defence as well as in-form Maya Petrova on the line to overturn the thee-goal half-time deficit.

Fleury’s Gnonsiane Niombla lead the scoring with eight goals, but the more balanced team effort and team composure from Rostov prevailed in the end, as Katrine Lunde was unbeatable in goal, adding 18 saves to her name, with a high saving percentage.

Fleury played a more composed first half, taking full advantage of Rostov suspensions, as the Russians conceded four goals with a women down to edge the first period with a 13:10 lead.

The match opened with feisty defences on both sides, which produced the initial four-minute goal draught, before Iuliia Managarova netted from the fast break.

Rostov had difficulties matching Fleury’s pace, as Gnonsiane Niombla punished poor transitional defence with five goals in the opening 12 minutes to make it 7:2, completing a 5:0 run for the Panthers.

Darly De Paula had a string of key saves in Fleury goal, to add to the frustration of the group leaders, whose game was full with technical errors from early on.

Niombla completed the rout with a pair of goals approaching the 15-minute mark, punishing the lack of composure from the Rostov backcourt.

Jan Leslie was forced to call timeout in order to make tactical changes in his team, with the Rostov centre block unable to match the nimble Niombla, who was combining with Laura Kamdop and causing all kind of trouble on the line.

The French backcourt dynamo Niombla was able to net six goals to bring back the five-goal lead, going into the last five minutes of the first half with 11:6 the score.

The revamped Russians, however, managed to trim down the dangerous lead by half-time to the much more comfortable 13:10 as Katrine Lunde saves a penalty from Niombla in the dying moments.

The late comeback was due to the two fast break efforts scored in quick succession, as Managarova and Petrova recorded three goals each before the half-time whistle.

Whatever coach Leslie said to his team at the half-time, must have worked wonders for Rostov’s determination.

The Russian side produced a rampant opening to the second half with 3:0 run, as Viktorya Borshchenko netted the equalizer to pave way for the two-goal lead with five minutes into the second period (14:16).

Rostov took advantage of the power play, to set the pace of the following 10 minutes maintaining the two-goal cushion (17:19).

Fleury struggled at both ends, with the wingers missing two clear cut chances. Frederic Bogeant responded by replacing the cold Darly de Paula with Julie Foggea in goal as a result.

Rostov produced a more organised backcourt effort, with the mighty Maya Petrova dominating the line, resulting in two important goals carving a significant four-goal lead mid-way through the second half (18:22).

Regina Shymkute was razor-sharp from seven metres, as 16 saves from the irrepressible Katrine Lunde allowed seasoned Iuliia Managarova to bring it to five-goal lead (21:26) as the 25th minute elapsed.

Ekateria llina netted only her second goal from eight attempts in this match, however, the dying minutes saw the Russian side completely in control, and they went on to seal an all-important 27:22 (10:13) victory, and fortify their first place in Group 1.

TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / bc