Resilient Vardar keep winning streak intact
HC Vardar continued to romp through the Women’s EHF Champions League Group Matches after outstanding performances by Andrea Penezic and Dragana Cvijic propelled them to a hard-earned 29:28 victory against battling FTC.
Vardar fend off FTC comeback to keep 100% record
FTC suffer second straight defeat against Macedonian rivals
FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs HC Vardar (MKD) 28:29 (12:16)
Vardar are very likely to take the maximum eight points into the main round after prevailing over FTC Rail-Cargo Hungaria in a high-octane clash between the group’s top two teams.
The Macedonian giants completed the double over their Hungarian rivals after left back Andrea Penezic rifled in a game-high nine goals, while towering pivot Dragana Cvijic and French playmaker Alexandra Lacrabere chipped in with five each.
Spaniard Nerea Pena scored eight for FTC, who launched a valiant second-half comeback when they erased a seven-goal deficit but fell short in the last five minutes.
Penezic and Cvijic were unstoppable in the first half as Vardar surged ahead thanks to the Croatian back’s effervescent long-range shooting and the Serbian pivot’s dominance on the six-metre line.
Three unanswered goals allowed the visitors to pull away to 9:6 and they kept up the pressure to carve out a 16:12 half-time lead.
The match seemed over as a contest when Vardar’s advantage soared to 20:13, but the home side then hit back as Pena and the vocal home fans orchestrated a spirited fightback.
It began with five unanswered goals and soon afterwards the rivals were level at 21:21.
Late drama seemed to be on the cards after FTC equalised again (24:24) a few minutes later, but two quick-fire goals by Lacrabere enabled the visitors to nose ahead in the home stretch and seal the contest before Pena netted a consolation goal on the buzzer.
FTC are also assured of reaching the main tound alongside Vardar, who are strong favourites against Thüringer HC in their final group fixture as they bid to make it six straight wins.
Irina Dibirova, Vardar coach: "In our team Lekic was missing and she is a very important player for us, so without her it wasn't so easy for us."
Gábor Elek, FTC coach: "I can't be happy that we could stand up after a seven-goal disadvantage because we don't get points for it. We fought well, but with so many faults it is not possible to win against a very good team like Vardar."
Dorottya Faluvégi, FTC right wing: "I am really sad that we couldn't get at least a draw, because we gave everything on the court. We must learn from this game."Author: Zoran Milosavljevic / ew