Odense too strong for Brest, Metz end Rostov's unbeaten runArticle
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GROUP 1 REVIEW:HC Odense celebrated their first ever victory in the Women’s EHF Champions League Main Round, beating Brest Bretagne Handball. In a duel of French and Russian champions, Metz were too strong for Rostov, winning at home by four goals

Odense too strong for Brest, Metz end Rostov's unbeaten run

Both sides started the Main Round as Group 1 outsiders, as Brest carried two points, and Odense just one from the Group Matches.

But now the Danish side has improved their position, winning 28:24 on home court.

  •  Both teams made their debut in the main round
  •  Odense now have three points; Brest stay on two
  •  Stine Jorgensen was Odense’s top scorer with six goals; Ana Gros netted seven times for Brest


HC Odense (DEN) vs Brest Bretagne Handball (FRA) 28:24 (14:10)

Neither of the sides had played in the Women’s EHF Champions League main round before, so reaching that stage was already a success for them. But they are still hungry for more, and both Odense and Brest dream of making the next step and progressing to the quarter-finals.

At the start of the Main Round, Odense had the worst scoring record among all surviving teams, 95 goals. Yet, against Brest they did a decent job in attack, which helped them to grab two valuable points.

The Danish team were dominant throughout the first half – the gap between the rivals grew slowly but steadily and reached five goals before Brest cut it to 14:10 at the break.

However, the start of the second half saw an improvement in the visitors’ game. Their back court players Ana Gros and Jovana Stojkovic were hard to stop, which helped Brest to reduce the gap to 17:15 by the 40th minute.

A tight battle followed, and two minutes from the buzzer, Odense still had a two-goal advantage at 26:24. However, Mie Hojlund and Freja Kyndboel scored two unanswered goals in the remaining time, sealing the home side’s historic win.

Odense goalkeeper Tess Wester said the team stuck to the game plan, "I think we had a good defence, and we kept to the agreements we had made in the tactics. We also had a very good attack and scored on the goals."

Jan Pytlick, coach of Odense, credits the way his side played early on as the difference maker, "I think we played very well and we were very concentrated from the beginning, and so we got a good start in the match."

Metz stop Rostov’s unbeaten run

Rostov-Don had gone undefeated through the Group Matches and were on a four-match winning run, but it all came to an end in Metz, as the French team were dominant and won 29:25.

  •  Metz and Rostov are now level in the table with seven points
  •  Grace Zaadi scored seven goals for Metz; Lois Abbingh netted as many for Rostov 

Metz Handball (FRA) vs Rostov-Don (RUS) 29:25 (17:14)

For many players on either team, the game probably had a special connotation. When France beat Russia in the EHF EURO final match last December, the French team had eight Metz players in the squad, while Russia relied on just as many Rostov handballers.

But if the Russian champions had wanted some kind of revenge, their hopes were in vain, as Metz played a solid game and stopped Rostov’s six-match unbeaten run in the competition.

The visitors had the better start to the match, taking a 3:1 lead, but Metz soon seized the initiative. Their defence gave special attention to Anna Vyakhireva, and although Rostov’s talisman scored four times before the break, that was not enough for her team, who trailed by three goals at the interval.

In the 40th minute, Vyakhireva got injured and never appeared on the court again. Without her, Rostov struggled even more, while Metz’s European champions Grace Zaadi, Laura Flippes as well as the German Xenia Smits scored from all angles.

The home’s side advantage reached six goals at certain points, and Metz went on to comfortably win 29:25, catching up with Rostov in the table as both teams now have seven points.

TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev/at