According to EHF official site, three-time Women’s EHF Champions League winners Győri Audi ETO KC became the first finalists of the 2017/18 season after a deserved semi-final victory against CSM Bucuresti. The Hungarian side kept 2016 out of the goal for the first 10 minutes of the match, and the Romanian club proved unable to recover from their slow start.
The semi-final victory means handball team Győr have the chance to become the first team to reclaim a trophy won at the Women’s EHF FINAL4, and takes them to their fourth trophy match in five years.
CSM Bucuresti vs Győri Audi ETO KC 20:26 (10:12)
“We will try our best to make them struggle a little with their rhythm.” These were the words of Győr centre back Stine Oftedal the day before the FINAL4 threw off in Papp László Budapest Sportarena – and that was the theme of the opening to the first semi-final.
From the first attack it was clear Bucharest were pushed out of their comfort zone by Győr’s faultless defence, led by the outstanding combination of Eduarda Amorim and Yvette Broch in the middle.
It took the 2016 winners more than 10 minutes to score their first goal, which came from Champions League 2017/18 All-star left back Cristina Neagu, at which point Győr had created an advantage that CSM would find difficult to shake (1:3).
A period in which Győr changed from their flexible 6-0 to a more open 3-2-1 defensive system allowed Neagu and Isabelle Gullden to play to line player Oana Manea for some easy six-metre goals, restoring confidence as they began to find their rhythm in attack. Still, Győr were able to maintain their two-goal advantage until the end of the first half heavily supported by some brilliant goals of Anita Görbicz.
Helped by a brilliant performance from goalkeeper Jelena Grubisic, CSM looked much more threatening in the second period. Though they played the same 6-0 system, their defence was more effective, forcing Győr to play long attacks while Grubisic tidied up many clear opportunities the Hungarian outfit created.
When Neagu scored her fifth goal in the 40th minute to take the first position on the season’s top scorer list, she brought her team within one.
Amanda Kurtovic was the next on the scoreboard, and for the first time in the match, the score was level (16:16).
But the reprieve for CSM was short-lived. Two quick goals took Győr in front once more, and after the three-time champions’ goalkeeper Kari Aalvik Grimsbø made some crucial saves around the 50-minute mark, Győr created a clearer lead at 20:16 with nine minutes remaining.
As the final buzzer drew closer, CSM started to play seven-against-six, taking out Grubisic in favour of an additional attacker – but they were punished for the attempt when Amorim scored a long-range shot in the 57th that took them to a 24:18 advantage and sealed the win.
Source: EHF press release – TEXT: Courtney Gahan / br