Vardar launch title bid with emphatic win over FTCArticle
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GROUP C REVIEW: Last season’s runners-up Vardar got their campaign on the right track with a convincing home win over FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria in this season’s opening match

Vardar launch title bid with emphatic win over FTC

HC Vardar opened the Women’s EHF Champions League Group Matches with a sound home win over FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria, raising hopes among their fans that they can finally lift the elusive trophy.

  • New signing Cvijic makes immediate impact for Vardar
  • Rampant Vardar pull away in first half with 8:0 run
  • Porous FTC defence lets in an avalanche of goals 
  • Visitors launch second half fightback but fall short


HC Vardar (MKD) vs FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) 34:31 (20:11) 

Macedonian powerhouse HC Vardar could not have asked for a better start to their EHF Champions League campaign this season after an outstanding first half performance gave them a morale-boosting win over Hungarian rivals FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria in the season’s curtain raiser on Friday.

With Larvik and Thuringer, the group’s other two teams, meeting on Saturday, Vardar showed that they will be the group favourites to advance into the Main Round with maximum points after brushing aside the visitors in their Jane Sandanski Arena.

First half run makes the difference

Having finished as the competition’s runners-up last season, Vardar displayed the kind of free-flowing handball likely to rekindle hopes among their passionate fans that they can win Europe’s premier club competition, should they reach the Women’s EHF FINAL4 for a fifth successive time.

Following a balanced start and a flurry of goals which saw the rivals tied at 10:10 midway through the first half, Vardar romped away with an 8:0 run as FTC failed to score for 10 minutes.

Cvijic makes immediate impact

The home side thrived with their new signing Dragana Cvijic, the towering Serbian line player who arrived from Montenegrin powerhouse Buducnost, dominating in attack for Vardar.

Cvijic led Vardar in the first half with five goals from as many shots, Andrea Penezic added four while Andrea Lekic and Andrea Canadija chipped in with three each.

"We were a bit suprised with the way we opened the game, because we are together about two months without competitive games, so I am satisfied with the first half," said Cvijic.

Snelder inspires fightback

FTC, who relied heavily on Danick Snelder and Aniko Kovacsics, fought hard after the break to keep the deficit down but there was no way back for the visitors, as Vardar never looked back after carving out an unassailable lead.

The Hungarian side slashed Vardar’s lead to six goals (23:17) shortly after the interval as the irrepressible Snelder scored her sixth goal, but Vardar quickly regained their composure after livewire playmaker Lekic took over the mantle.

She netted three goals in a row with some dazzling solo runs, enabling Vardar to pull away to 31:21 midway through the second half with Cvijic still unstoppable on the six-metre line.

Ferencvaros run out of time

Russian goalkeeper Inna Suslina pulled off several superb saves to keep Vardar firmly in the driving seat in the closing stages, with FCT hitting back through Nerea Pena and Dorottya Faluvegi, whose fast-break goal reduced the arrears to 33:27 in the 55th minute.

The home team went through the motions in the last five minutes as they took their feet off the pedal, allowing the Hungarian side to score three times in a row on an empty net within 90 seconds, capping a spirited but ultimately futile 8:1 run for the visitors.

“I think that the first half was very tough for us, we were not so strong in defence. We made some mistakes in the attack in the last 10 minutes, but in the second half we improved," said FTC's Pena. 

The unstoppable Cvijic and compatriot Lekic led Vardar with seven goals each, while Penezic and Alexandra Lacrabere netted six apiece.

Faluvegi was FTC’s top scorer with seven goals as Pena and Snelder chipped in with six each in the high-scoring encounter. 

TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / cor