Györ open lead at top as Rostov progress
Both Saturday matches in Women’s EHF Champions League Group B went the way of the visiting teams. Brest’s final home match of the campaign ended in defeat to Rostov-Don, who in turn became the third team from the quartet to advance to the next phase of the competition.
Midtjylland and Györ, who had secured their spots a week before, met in Ikast, where the current title holders came out on top of a tight battle.
• Györ top the group with eight points
• Brest still have no points in the competition
• Györ's Mork (13 goals) and Midtjylland's Kristiansen (11) were the day’s outstanding scorers
Brest Bretagne Handball (FRA) vs Rostov-Don (RUS) 23:29 (14:15)
In the opening round of the group matches, Brest fought hard in Rostov, narrowly losing 26:24. At home, the French side hoped to do better and ultimately claim their first points in Group B.
Yet Rostov proved their quality, withstanding pressure early in the second half en route to a comfortable win and a berth in the main round in the bag.
Led by the captain Iulia Managarova, Rostov enjoyed a better start in the match. By the ninth minute, the visitors were 5:1 up. Yet following a time-out taken by Laurent Bezeau, Brest started to improve and close the gap.
Goalkeeper Cleopatre Darleux not only made a series of saves, but also set up a goal herself after intercepting a pass and joining the attack. Anna Vyakhireva stepped up to give Rostov a 15:14 lead at the break, but all was to play for.
Early in the second half, the hosts continued their good run and took a 17:16 lead. But that was as good as it would get and Rostov strongly dominated in the final quarter of the game.
Rostov’s French coach Frederic Bougeant could enjoy the final minutes as he won another coaching duel against compatriot Bezeau.
“I am happy with the performance of my players, we managed to hold the concentration for 60 minutes, which was not the case in Gyor. I liked the investment of the team and I think we have reached a level in this game,” said Bougeant.
Despite the score, Brest’s fans were on their feet in the final stages to show their appreciation for the side’s efforts in their first season at this level.
Brest coach Bezeau said afterwards: "We are obviously disappointed to have lost but the players have tried everything to win this game. I think we showed a credible and legitimate face this season.”
FC Midtjylland (DEN) vs Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) 24:27 (12:14)
Both sides had been level on six points before the game, but following Györ's victory, the Hungarian side now rise above the other teams in the Group B.
Midtjylland were determined to take a revenge for the bitter 11-goal defeat in Hungary in Round 1. Following that setback, they claimed three straight confidence-boosting victories.
The game was very close, and it featured a duel of the two prolific Norwegian scorers wearing number 10 - Midtjylland's Veronica Kristiansen and Györ's Nora Mork.
Each of them scored nearly a half of their teams' goals, yet Mork had a slightly bigger impact and was instrumental in Györ's victory.
The Hungarian side jumped out to a 10:5 lead midway through the first half, before Kristiansen came to life inspired Midtjylland to slash the gap to 10:9. Nevertheless, Györ had an upper hand and enjoyed a two-goal lead at the interval.
The hosts were chasing the title holders throughout the second half, mostly trailing by one or two goals, but were unable to turn the game around.
When Mork made the score 26:23 three minutes from time, Györ’s travelling band of fans cheered with relief as they went on to claim two points and sole possession of top spot in the group.
FCM coach Kristian Kristensen certainly felt his side could have taken something away from the match: "Right now I am quite annoyed because we had a real chance to win or play draw until the last five minutes. At this level you have to be acute to the very end, otherwise you lose.
"Nevertheless, I give credit to the whole team for being so mentally strong. We resisted Györ’s pressure after a tough start and I am very proud of that, but of course I am tired of the result because it was so close."
Author: Sergey Nikolaev / cor