DAY REVIEW: Three Sunday matches completed the Round 1 programme of the Women's EHF Cup Group Phase
Brest, Kuban and Larvik enjoy good start
While Gdynia and Vipers lost their opening group matches in the previous days, the two other teams moving from the EHF Champions League to the EHF Cup Group Phase, Brest and Larvik, managed to beat their Romanian opponents at home.
Meanwhile, Kuban enjoyed a successful voyage to Denmark, where they defeated Randers.
· Randers became the third Danish team to lose at the weekend
In their opening campaign in the Women’s EHF Champions League, Brest were been unable to claim any points from six games. However, in the EHF Cup they are among the favourites in the competitive Group A and the French runner-up claimed their first victory of the season in Europe.
Brest have three newly-crowned world champions in their squad and while the goalkeeper Cleopatre Darleux is now sidelined due to an injury, Alison Pineau and Astride N'Gouan contributed to their team's success.
Craiova, who play their just second season in European club competition, enjoyed a brave start and led 5:2, then 7:5. However, Brest soon drew level and then took over, bringing the score from 10:10 to 13:10 at half-time.
After the break, the home team maintained their lead and although Craiova reduced the gap several times, the two points were secured when Jovana Stoiljkovic made it 25:21 four minutes from time.
Brest head coach Laurent Bezeau was focusing on the points, rather than the score in his assessment: “I am happy because what matters is the victory. The first match is never easy, so I am pretty happy. It was not an easy opponent to play and this was our third match in a week.
“It would have been interesting to win with a bigger gap but three goals against Craiova is already good.”
Randers HK (DEN) vs Kuban (RUS) 20:23 (10:11)
Following Saturday's defeats of Viborg and Koebenhavn, Randers hoped to defend the honour of the Danish league on Sunday. However, the team coached by Niels Agesen failed to grab any points against the ambitious Kuban.
The visitors had only a slight advantage throughout the first half, which was reflected in their 11:10 lead at the break. However, then Kuban improved their defence and enjoyed a brilliant run, racing into a 20:13 lead midway through the second half.
Randers should be given a credit for not giving up at that point. The Danish side played well in the last ten minutes of the match and markedly reduced the gap, but it was too late as Kuban celebrated a victory.
While Craiova fought hard in Brest, another Romanian side Zalau did not really stand a chance in Norway. Although Larvik won by only five goals in the end, the hosts held a comfortable advantage throughout the game and easily cruised past their rivals.
It was 6:2 after 10 minutes and the gap only increased from there, reaching 15:7 at half-time. Larvik defended well and Kristine Breistol was hard to stop in attack as she top scored, finding the back of the net nine times.
The hosts somewhat relaxed their approach after the break and Zalau did their best to avoid a humiliating defeat. The final score of 28:23 looks quite respectable for the Romanian side, but Larvik's victory was never in danger.
TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / cor
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