Győr claim narrow victory in battle of defencesArticle
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SEMI-FINAL REVIEW: As expected defences dominated the first semi-final between Győr and Buducnost and the Hungarian outfit emerged as winners after a near-perfect defensive display.

Győr claim narrow victory in battle of defences

Győri Audi ETO have reached the Women’s EHF Champions League final by defeating the defending champions Buducnost in the first semi-final of the Women's EHF FINAL4 in Budapest. Both teams defended extremely well, hence the few goals but Győr remained in control of the tightly contested encounter by outstanding performances from Heidi Löke and Nycke Groot.

Women's EHF Champions League, semi-final:
Buducnost (MNE) vs Győri Audi ETO KC (HUN) 20:21 (8:11)

A breathtaking opening ceremony set the mood for the much-anticipated first semi final between the winners of the four previous editions of Europe’s elite handball competetion.

Ambros Martín pulled a surprising move by starting with both Nycke Groot and Anikó Kovacsics while As many expected the beginning of the semi-final was about defending, three yellow cards and a two-minute suspension had been given before the first goal was scored in the 6th minute courtesy of ex-Győr right back Katarina Bulatovic.

Tough defending an excellent performances from both keepers continued to dominate the first half as backs struggled to find their shooting range.

Buducnost held on to their narrow lead for a while, however their most important defender, Dragana Cvijic was sent out twice before the 20th minute.

"We played without Cvijic for a big part of the game, but even without her we managed to come back to the match. We lost the game due to our mistakes and there is nothing we can do now.

"We made many mistakes in attack and our opponent did a great job in this field. We also did not use several advantages when Györ had only four players on the court," Buducnost goalkeeper Marta Zderic said.

Goals from Nycke Groot put Győr ahead and Dragan Adzic took his first time-out but the last minutes of the first half belonged to the Hungarian side as Heidi Löke pulled some amazing moves to keep her team up front.

"I think that our defence decided the winner today. We were fighting during the whole match and I’m very happy because of this now," Löke said.

"When it comes to our opponent it really doesn’t matter to me which team we will meet in the final because we are prepared really good for this FINAL4 and I hope we will show this tomorrow too," she added.

However, after the break it took Cristina Neagu and Milena Raicevic only three minutes to turn the game around and send the massive Montenegrin crowd into a frenzy. The battle of giants did not disappoint as the magnificent Löke even scored when Buducnost had a double man advantage to re-gain the lead.

Both defences remained composed and solid despite of the red hot atmoshphere in the arena. Buducnost had a number of chances to equalize but

Győr managed to hold on to their shrinking advantage until the last minutes. As expected the battle of the two European heavyweights turned into a battle of nerves.

Eight seconds before the final whistle Adzic took his last time-out but Buducnost could not even manage a shot on goal for the equalizer and Győr emerged as winners. The Hungarian outfit made it to the final after two years while Buducnost miss the final for the first time since 2013.

You can view photos of both semi-finals and more here. Győri Audi ETO will meet CSM Bucuresti in the final on Sunday.

TEXT: Bence Mártha / br