The Hungarian runner-up FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria earned their first victory in the EHF Champions League Main Round. They had a slow start in Metz, but turned the game around in the second half and added two points to the five they carried over from the group matches. It was a key battle in Group 2 Main Round, as Győr and Krim were boasted a six-point tally after the group matches.
by Sergey Nikolaev / kc
Metz entered the Main Round with four points carried over from the previous stage – one point less than FTC. Their clash played an important role in their fight for the quarter-final spots.
Prior to this game, Metz had not dropped any points in their home matches in the EHF Champions League this season, while their Hungarian rivals had yet to lose an away match.
Metz started strong
Metz right wing Laura Flippes was still injured, and could not participate in this match. The French champions also had concerns about Sladjana Pop-Lazic, yet despite recent health problems, she was able to participate in the game.
Cheered on by their home crowd, Metz enjoyed a strong start. FTC players looked nonchalant, and the hosts captalised on their frequent mistakes and went into the lead thanks to fast counter attack play. Ana Gros and Xenia Smits were effective up front, and the French team led 8:4 by the 10th minute when FTC’s head coach Gabor Elek called the first time out.
His talk seemed to work- the Hungarians started to play more aggressive, faster handball. Their goalkeeper Blanka Biro made a number of saves, so FTC gradually caught up and almost drew level at half-time, where the score stood at 13:14.
The visitors gained momentum
Late in the first half, and early in the second, Metz were unable to score for a period of more than ten minutes. The visitors capitalised on this oppourtunity, and following a 5:0 scoring run took the 18:14 lead by the 36th minute.
FTC gained momentum and became hard to stop. Their back court players Zita Szucsanszki, Nerea Pena Abaurrea and Dora Hornyak played particularly well, and the visitors extended their advantage to 27:21 with ten minutes to go.
For the remaining time, the French side pushed hard to come back and reduced the gap, yet it was too late even to fight for one point. FTC went on to seal the victory and now have seven points, while Metz stay on four points.
The Hungarian powerhouse, who lost the final a year ago in Budapest, are huge favourites this season -and they wanted to start the Main Round with a statement.Photo: MTI
by Adrian Costeiu / kc
As a mix of young talented players and savvy veterans, Krim’s eyes were again set on a quarter-final spot. However, they only managed to keep pace with Győr for the first 10 minutes.
At first, the Slovenian side led by a two-goal margin, 6:4. Despite this, they could only manage to score three more times before the end of the first half, due to the host’s world-class defence.
The period between the 14th and the 21st minute was the key moment of the game, as Anita Görbicz signalled a return to her usual form. She scored five goals in the first half, to put Györ in an outstanding position, an unassailable 20:9 lead at half-time.
Confident that they had secured the two points, Győr relaxed, and introduced new Tunisian line player Asma Elghaoui into their line-up. Several other youngsters also gained important experience in the European top flight competition.
Elghaoui, whose transfer was spurred by Heidi Løke’s absence due to pregnancy, scored three times. Győr truly impressed with their attacking prowess, and sealed the impressive 39:22 win.
It was also Győr’s biggest win yet against their Slovenian rivals, who are still second in the group with six points. The Hungarian side are already gunning for first place and a home-field second game in the quarter finals phase.Photo: MTI Photo: MTI
Source: Press releas – EHF