GROUP B REVIEW: FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria defeat Russian champions Astrakhanochka by nine goals and claim two points on the home court.
FTC record first win in style
After a positive start in Skopje, where they split the points with HC Vardar in Round 1 of the Women’s EHF Champions League, Hungarian runners-up FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria pleased their fans once again by beating Astrakhanochka 32:23.
• FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria join HC Vardar on top of Group B with three points at the end of Round 2
• Astrakhanochka play their first ever away match in Europe’s top flight
• The Russian side finish Round 2 third in the group ahead of HC Leipzig, who have yet to win a match
FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs Astrakhanochka (RUS) 32:23 (15:10)
FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria earned a draw against Vardar in Skopje in Round 1, and in Round 2 they finished with a confident victory against the Russian debutants.
In Hungary, the Russian champions faced a bigger challenge than in Round 1, when they opened their first ever EHF Champions League season with a victory against HC Leipzig.
Experience a key factor
From the start of the match the difference between two teams was clear. The experienced FTC players had an air of confidence, while Astrakhanochka, playing their first away game in the EHF Champions league in history, looked timid.
The Hungarian side systematically built up their advantage, and were in the lead 8:3 midway through the first half.
Soon afterwards however, the hosts briefly lost their concentration, which helped the team from Astrakhan to slash the gap from 3:9 to 6:9.
FTC head coach Gabor Elek resorted to a time-out and was rewarded as the host team went on to lead 15:10 at half-time.
FTC rely on more depth
Early in the second half a series of goals from 32-year-old Liudmila Postnova, whose vast international experience is clear amidst her younger teammates, helped the Russian side to stay in the game.
18-year-old Karina Sabirova also played a strong game as FTC’s defence struggled to deal with her powerful shots, especially after the half-time break.
But their efforts were simply not enough – the Hungarian side had more top-class players and prolific scorers in their roster, and they did not let go of the advantage.
"We fought, and I think that is the improtant. We did everything that we could," said Sabirova following the match. "After our last match we started to prepare against Fradi, but this is a very strong team, they use all our mistakes. By all means, every loss is a disappointment."
The score of 32:23 at full-time reflected the match on court and allowed FTC to join Vardar on top of the group with three points. Astrakhanochka are third with two points after Round 2, and HC Leipzig are still to earn their first points in the competition.
Nerea Pena was the hosts’ top scorer with eight goals, while Sabirova also found the net eight times for Astrakhanochka.
TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / cg