GROUP C REVIEW: Forceful La Rioja allow no surprise in front of home fans as they climb to the top of the Group C at the expense of lacklustre Elverum.
La Rioja fend off Elverum to claim top spot in Group C
The Spanish side were in control from start to finish of the VELUX EHF Champions League Round 6 match, extending their unbeaten run to seven matches in a row as they defeated Elverum Handball 28:21.
Thanks to the solid defensive display and consistent finishing, Naturhouse La Rioja were cruising from the get-go, while Elverum were unable to make up for their initial stutter in front of Richard Kapellin’s goal.
• La Rioja maintain their seven-match unbeaten run to reclaim the top spot in Group C
• Elverum were handed their second defeat by La Rioja this season, having previously lost 27:32 at home
• Elverum suffered a wasteful opening, taking 13 minutes to find the net for their first goal
Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP) vs Elverum (NOR) 28:21 (11:8)
A fine evening in Logrono ended with an important victory for hosts Naturhouse La Rioja.
The defensive brawl was anticipated early on, as both teams needed as much as six minutes to find the net, before Luis Jimenez Reina scored a half-court screamer to open the scoreboard.
Naturhouse tactically superior
Jota Gonzalez’ team preparation for the match was evident in their opponent’s inability to pose a consistent threat to the Spanish side’s goal. At the other end of the court, the hosts’ tactical consistency and ability to constantly challenge the Norwegian team’s defence by playing two against one overpowered the variety displayed by Elverum.
The Spaniards made a valiant effort to lead their opponents 7:4 as the 20th minutes elapsed, while Elverum were unable to find the right answer for La Rioja’s dynamic attack and evenly spread scoring contributions.
Half-time saw a low score of 11:8 with everything still to play for, as Elverum struggled with suspensions and matching the pace of the hosts.
A confident second half
La Rioja looked good value for their lead, playing with confidence, as Elverum’s attempts to shock the hosts mainly ended in conceded goals through power play.
The last opportunity for Elevrum to catch up on the deficit occurred midway through the second period.
Elverum tried a Veszprém-like seven-against-six attack with Andre Lindboe in the middle when the score was 17:15, but the Norwegians ended up empty-handed and conceded two goals.
La Rioja recorded a 4:0 series with a little over 10 minutes to go in the second half (21:15), which paved their way to victory.
The difference was extended further to the final score of 28:21 as Elverum could not break their own barren run late in the match.
TEXT: Nemanja Savic / cg