Rostov survive Metz comeback to reach first ever finalArticle
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SEMI-FINAL REVIEW: The second Women’s EHF Champions League 2018/19 Semi-final saw a tough battle between Metz and Rostov, with the Russian side edging their opponents by two goals
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Rostov survive Metz comeback to reach first ever final

Rostov-Don won the thrilling second semi-final of the DELO WOMEN'S EHF FINAL4 in Papp Laszlo Arena on Saturday afternoon, thereby qualifying for the Women’s EHF Champions League trophy match for the first time in their club’s history.

The Russian team will meet Györ in the final, hoping to knock the defending champions off the throne the Hungarian team have occupied since the 2016/17 season.

Rostov coach Ambros Martin, who steered Györ to four titles in six years, commented: "This week was very good for us. We could simulate every situations during the trainings and that is why we could control the game from the beginning. In the second half, Metz pushed so hard and we missed some chances so we made them confident. The key for the win was our teamwork."

  • Rostov-Don qualify for the Women’s EHF Champions League Final for the first time in history

  • A penalty save from Rostov’s Mayssa Pessoa in the closing minutes decides the nail-biting semi-final, while Anna Vyakhireva leads her side in attack with seven goals

  • Metz’s Grace Zaadi plays an exceptional match, top scoring with a tally of nine goals

  • Rostov will meet Györ in the final on Sunday, while Metz will take on Vipers Kristiansand in the bronze-medal game


Metz Handball (FRA) vs Rostov-Don (RUS) 25:27 (8:15)

Metz Handball were one of the most impressive sides in the Women’s EHF Champions League this season, and had won both clashes versus Rostov-Don in the main round. One of the main questions prior to the semi-final was therefore: Would the French debutants’ lack of EHF FINAL4 experience prove an obstacle?

It turned out to be so, as Rostov-Don were clearly more composed from throw-off and it took Metz some time to find their usual rhythm. The nervous start cost Metz the match, as they could never quite come back despite a great second half.

The French side are widely known for their exceptional defence, but it was Rostov that won that battle in the first half. Rostov’s Anna Sedoykina had a great opening 30 minutes in goal, winning the fight between the posts against Laura Glauser as she saved at a huge 53 per cent.

Rostov controlled the first half and found the most effective way through Metz’s 6-0 defence via their back court, who consistently opened gaps on the six-metre line. With Sedoykina keeping Metz out of the goal, the Russian side created a 7:4 lead in the first quarter and pulled further ahead to 15:8 by half-time.

When the match resumed, Metz had settled and found their way back to their own game. With the help of an aggressive 5-1 defence marking out Vyakhireva and goalkeeper Ivana Kapitanovic’s saves, the French team closed the gap to two, 15:17, by the 39th minute. And from that point it was a different match than what had been seen on court in the opening half.

Grace Zaadi was a powerful factor for Metz, tallying a total of nine goals and leading the comeback in attack. Rostov’s Ksenia Makeeva received her third two-minute suspension with the last quarter beginning, as her team just held the edge at 19:17.

"I am very sad that we could not qualify to the finals. We prepared for this game and I do not want to blame our lack of experience for this defeat. Our team had a really good season. Rostov played very well especially in the first half and they did not let us play our game. I am very proud of our performance in the second half, we could show what we are capable of," Zaadi said.

Nothing was decided until the dying minutes. With two minutes on the clock, Rostov held steady in front at 27:24. Mayssa Pessoa, having come in for Sedoykina early in the second half, saved a penalty versus Zaadi that kept her team their three-goal lead with 90 seconds left. With that, the winner was decided.

TEXT: Courtney Gahan / ew