Esbjerg salvage home draw against Siófok
Nothing is yet clear about who will be the 2018/19 Women’s EHF Cup champions after a 21:21 draw between Team Esbjerg and Siófok KC Hungary in Esbjerg, Denmark, in the first leg of the final played this afternoon.
While this result may seem favourable for the side from Hungary ahead of their home match on 11 May, Esbjerg ended the first match the happier after they came back from being four goals behind in the second half.
- Esbjerg ended an eight-match winning run in the competition
- Siófok were unable to score any goals after the 53th minute
- First meeting as opponents between twin Norwegian internationals Sanna and Silje Solberg
- Sanna Solberg was Esbjerg’s top scorer with six goals, while competition top-scorer Andrea Kobetic netted six times for the visitors
FINAL, FIRST LEG
Team Esbjerg (DEN) vs Siófok KC Hungary (HUN) 21:21 (12:10)
Looking to put to bed memories of the 2013-14 Women’s EHF Cup Final loss to Lada Togliatti, home side Team Esbjerg entered the first leg of the 2018-19 final with confidence to lead 6:2 at the Blue Water Dokken after just 11 minutes.
But, gradually, Siófok woke up and eventually grabbed the initiative as they drew level at 10:10 in the 27th minute, but Esbjerg came back to dominate the end of the first half, going in up by two (12:10) at the break.
Esbjerg’s left wing Sanna Solberg had no mercy for her twin sister Silje, Siófok’s goalkeeper, scoring six goals from her first six attempts in the opening period and early in the second half, her side pulled ahead 15:12 (36th minute). But from then until the 50th minute they could only score once as Siófok turned the tables, to take a 20:16 lead after an 8:1 scoring run with Silje Solberg taking her chance to shine, stopping the home team’s attack as part of an improved Siófok defence.
Down the other end, Andrea Kobetic’s impact in attack appeared to put the visitors on the road to the victory, but they could not keep it up, tiring and slowing down late in the game as eventually they stopped scoring – registering their final strike of the match in the 53rd minute.
Esbjerg did their best to catch up in the remaining moments and they did, just in time. In the final minute the visitors hit the post, and in the return attack, Esbjerg earned a penalty shot as the final buzzer sounded.
Kristina Liscevic then coolly converted to make it all even and set-up a mouth-watering second leg next week as Siófok aim to grab their first European trophy in just their fourth European season.
“Siófok played a great game,” said Esbjerg coach Jesper Jensen after the match. “If we had been behind by four after today it would not be realistic to win the final - today we lost the goalkeeping duel, but we have players who can do better.”
“You forget that it is your sister you’re playing against,” said Silje Solberg after the game about playing with her sibling. “It was not her, but Esbjerg we played against, otherwise it would have taken too much focus [away from the game].
"I am happy with the result as Esbjerg are strong but I hope we can be even stronger [than them] in Siófok.”