Hypo and Leipzig in San Sebastian finalArticle
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GROUP 2 REVIEW: Spanish hosts Super Amara Bera Bera lost their semi-final against Women’s EHF Champions League record winners while German side HC Leipzig coasted to victory against HC Gomel.

Hypo and Leipzig in San Sebastian final

A duel between neighbours Germany vs Austria will decide who qualifies through to the Women's EHF Champions League Group B, which throws-off in October.
  • HC Leipzig are now just one win away from their ninth participation in the group matches of the Women’s EHF Champions League
  • Gomel’s playmaker Anna Redka scored the first goal of the Women’s EHF Champions League season 2016/17, the only lead of their team
  • It was Hypo’s first-ever Women’s EHF Champions League qualification match following 23 straight spots in the group round of games
  • Austrian side have the chance to take revenge for their clearest-ever defeat in their long women's champions league history, after Leipzig beat them 42:22 in the 2014/15 group matches
  • Winner of Saturday’s final will proceed to group B, to face HC Vardar, Astrakhanochka and FTC Hungaria Rail Cargo in the group matches
  • Bera Bera and Gomel will both continue in the Women’s EHF Cup


HC Leipzig (GER) vs HC Gomel (BLR) 29:18 (13:6)
After several travel problems including a cancelled flight on Thursday (8 September), German league runners-up HC Leipzig had no problems in their Women’s EHF Champions League Qualification Group 2 semi-final this afternoon (Friday 9 September).
In an expected dominant way, the German side defeated the Women’s EHF Champions League debutants HC Gomel to be the first team in San Sebastian to qualify for the final on Saturday (18:30 hrs local time, live on www.ehfCL.com).
For the current German Cup winners it is the third straight time after 2013 and 2014 they have reached a final of a qualification tournament after beating a Belorussian team following two previous victories against Minsk.
Their final opponent (tomorrow – Saturday 10 September) will be decided in the second semi-final between tournament hosts Super Amara Bera Bera (ESP) and record Women’s EHF Champions League winners Hypo Niederösterreich (AUT).
After taking some time to adapt to Gomel, Leipzig’s defence stood extremely strong, conceding just six goals in the first 30 minutes. Team captain and Polish international Karolina Kudlacz-Gloc was the only effective attacker in the first period for her side, but the German sides’ defence was the key to an easy-going clear lead at the break.
Even an injury to Minsk-born left back Ewgenija Minevskaja did not stop Leipzig on their way to the pre-decisive 13:6 half-time score, which included eight saves from goalkeeper Katja Kramarczyk and four goals from Kudlacz-Gloc.
The second half saw continued high concentrations levels from the German side, though Gomel tried hard to use Leipzig’s player rotation to reduce the gap, but it was futile - even Leipzig’s second-choice goalkeeper Nele Kurzke netted into an empty goal to make it 20:12 and Gomel’s coach Tomasz Cater had seen enough to take a team time-out. 
But nothing changed, in the 45th minute all the Leipzig players had had playing time on court and at 22:12 up,  the first double-figured distance, the Germans could relax knowing a final place awaited them.
Hypo Niederösterreich (AUT) vs Super Amara Bera Bera (ESP) 25:21 (14:12)

Bera Bera started in express mode, cheered by their fans in the arena in San Sebastian, but right after they went 7:5 up, their motor got stuck and Hypo took control, strengthening the defence and forcing Bera Bera to make many mistakes,

Thanks to their strong Danish new arrival, line player Christina Harum, who scored all her five goals before the break, the 40-time Austrian champions scored an impressive 9:4 series to be ahead 14:11 right before the break after they had taken the lead for the first time at 8:7.

Even a team timeout from coach Montserrat Puche did not stop the downswing of the Spanish champions in the final stages of the first half.

After a short sign of life in the first minutes after the break, when they levelled the result at 14:14 – and missed opportunities to go ahead, Bera Bera were overrun again.

The pressure seemed to be too much for them as the rebuilt Hypo squad were outstanding, playing patiently and efficiently. At that moment, the experienced Acimovic took the responsibility on herself and led her team to a pre-decisive 20:15 lead within seven minutes after being level at 14:14.

This period broke the hearts of the hosts as Bera Bera’s resistance was smashed as they found themselves down 24:17 and their high hopes of making it to the group matches shattered already.

On the other hand, Hypo reduced their speed and saved some powers for the final on Saturday, meaning the Spanish champions managed to get closer, but Hypo ensured they were never in danger.
Photos: Bera Bera / Hypo Official Facebook

TEXT: Bjorn Pazen / amc