Győri Audi ETO KC secured their third consecutive Women’s EHF Champions League title with a 25:24 win versus Rostov-Don in the final on Sunday evening in Papp László Arena, Budapest.
According to EHF official report, it was a nail-biting finish to the game, as Rostov-Don came within one goal with 37 seconds left and regained possession for a chance to level the score. But once again it was a last-second save that won the trophy for Győr, as Kari Grimsbø stopped Lois Abbingh’s shot right before the buzzer.
Rostov-Don (RUS) vs Győri Audi ETO KC (HUN) 24:25 (11:15)
The fight for the title reflected what was at stake, with both Rostov and Győr stepping up another level from their already strong performances in the semi-finals. It was an emotionally charged, physical contest, which saw the Russian team initially take the lead before falling behind in the first half, thereby leaving them chasing throughout the second 30 minutes.
Early on, Anna Vyakhireva as Rostov’s outstanding leader in attack, as the EHF EURO 2018 MVP scored three goals in the first eight minutes – and all from outside Győr’s 6-0 defence. But Győr soon found a way to shut down the right back, and after those three goals, Vyakhireva did not hit the back of the net again.
Nevertheless, Rostov held a steady advantage up till the 23rd minute when Bernadett Bodi levelled at 10:10. From that point, the Russian team never took the lead again, and Győr grabbed the advantage and kept it through to the final buzzer.
Rostov coach Ambros Martin has no shortage of depth in his squad, so while Vyakhireva’s low-scoring game was something of a factor, the Russian side could rely on great goals from sharpshooter Abbingh and line player Kseniya Makeeva, who also played an important role in the centre of the defence alongside Anna Sen.
For Győr, the middle block of Crina Pintea and Eduarda Amorim was key, as were the saves of goalkeeper Kari Grimsbø. After EHF FINAL4 2018 MVP Amandine Leynaud started the match but did not have her strongest game, the Norwegian international came into goal at the end of the first quarter and proved key for the Hungarian team. Grimsbø’s performance was enough to earn her the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 MVP title.
Győr back Nycke Groot scored her first goal in the sixth minute, levelling at 5:5 and thereby becoming the all-time top scorer at WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 events as she passed Cristina Neagu on that ranking. Groot’s total at EHF FINAL4s now stands at 57, but the Dutch centre back did not have the opportunity to add too many goals to her tally as she received a direct red card in the 36th minute for a foul on Polina Kuznetsova.
At that point, Győr held an 18:14 advantage, and they maintained a cushion of a few goals until the last five minutes when Rostov were finally rewarded for their persistence with Abbingh taking the score to 24:25 – but it was not enough.
Although the Russian side pushed till the end, Győr held on to secure the trophy.
Vipers Kristiansand of Norway finished in third place in the women’s handball Champions League Final Four by defeating its French opponent in Budapest on Sunday.