|30.10.2016, 17:45||◄ last page|
GROUP A REVIEW: Buducnost and Metz Handball edged closer to the Women’s EHF Champions League Main Round,following contrasting wins over their respective rivals on Sunday.
Buducnost and Metz march on towards Main Round
Montenegrin giants, Buducnost and French title holders, Metz Handball, rolled on towards the Women’s EHF Champions League Main Round, after celebrating contrasting away victories against Thüringer HC and Glassverket, respectively.
Buducnost made light work of their resounding 32:26 defeat of THC, while Metz spilled a seven-goal half-time lead before coming out on top in Norway, thanks to Xenia Smits.
Former two-time EHF Champions League winners, Buducnost, steam-rolled to their third straight win in the group matches, after a superb first half propelled them to a comfortable victory against the hosts, Metz Handball.
Spanish goalkeeper, Darli De Paula, shone between the posts, while Katarina Bulatovic and Christina Neagu unleashed their back court firepower for the Montenegrin side.
Left back Bulatovic, who steered Buducnost to both their titles in 2012 and 2015, scored four of her team’s opening six goals. It was clear there would be no way back for Metz after the Romanian left back, Neagu, started inflicting damage, along with other players joining the scoring party.
Thüringer HC, who worked hard to keep the deficit down, were left to the devices of their top scorer, Iveta Luzumova, as the Czech stalwart netted five first half goals against one of Europe’s most battle-hardened defensive units.
However, Neagu was relentless at the other end and finished the opening period with seven goals, allowing Buducnost to head into the dressing room at half-time with a massive 10-goal lead.
The visitors kept their feet on the gas pedal in the opening 20 minutes of the second half and comfortably maintained their advantage, with teenager Djordjina Jaukovic showing her vast array of talents.
But Thüringer HC refused to give up and with their passionate fans roaring them on, they managed to slash the deficit in the closing stages, after Buducnost coach, Dragan Adzic, rested his starters, giving some second-string players time to prove their worth on the court.
Neagu finished with eight goals for Buducnost, while Bulatovic added six and Jaukovic chipped in with four, leading a pack of 12 visiting players who were down on the score sheet.
The outstanding Luzumova led the home side with eight goals from as many shots, but the support cast struggled whenever Buducnost closed their ranks with an aggressive 6-0 defence.
Women’s EHF Champions League debutants, Glassverket, came within a inch of celebrating a memorable first win in Europe’s top flight, but were ultimately undone by excellent finishing from Xenia Smits, who made sure Metz took the win in an astonishing rollercoaster match.
The Norwegian side made a strong start to the game against their more fancied rivals, having taken a 4:3 lead in the early stages. The visitors replied with a 4:0 run which swung the balance, as their high-scoring quartet took over.
Ana Gros, Grace Zaadi, Marion Maubon and Xenia Smits fired on all cylinders, as Metz engineered another 4:0 streak in the closing stages of the first half, carving out a seemingly insurmountable seven-goal lead at the interval.
Glassverket then launched an incredible comeback and Metz did not see it coming, as the Norwegian side scored nine unanswered goals in the opening 15 minutes of the second half to take a 17:15 lead.
While the goals were raining into the Metz net from all angles, the French side appeared to have hit a wall at the other end of the court, with Glassverket goalkeeper, Guro Rundbraten, performing miracles.
Relying too heavily on Emilie Christensen and Birna Berg Haraldsdottir in attack in their opening two games, the Norwegian outfit thrived from a more balanced scoring workload this time and it briefly seemed they would force a much stronger Metz side into submission.
Trailing 18:16 as the match headed into the home straight, the visitors dug deep into their resources and forced one last twist, thanks to the outstanding Smits, who cut through the home team’s defence like a knife when it mattered.
Slovenian Ana Gros, also a pillar for the visitors, scored her sixth goal to give Metz a 22:21 lead and after the home side drew level in their next possession, Smits drilled in a pair of vital goals; the second a pile-driver from the nine metre mark, which sealed the rip-roaring contest.
Christensen and Line Bjoernesen netted four apiece for Glassverket, while Bjarnadottir, Tiril Merg and Mette Leipart chipped in with three each.
TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic/tm