Thanks to the greater number of away goals scored in the direct encounter, Astrakhanochka was safely in the Main Round after Vardar’s victory against HC Leipzig. The young Russian team started very well in the last round match against FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria: Astrakhanochka surprised FTC and took a confident lead in the first quarter of the game (11-6). Sabirova made spectacular saves in the goal while Karina Sabirova seemed unstoppable for the hardly-working FTC-defense. In the middle of the first half, Gábor Elek made a change in the goal and Melinda Szikora brought a more stable performance in the goal than Blanka Bíró before. FTC reduced the high number of easy mistakes and came back into the game step by step as the Russians got more and more tired from their own rhythm. The young Russians put up a great fight against the much more experienced Hungarians but the first half ended with 14:14.
FTC started stronger in the second half: Nerea Pena found her rhythm in the beginning of the second half with two goals, but Astrakhanochka didn’t give the two points easily. They were running close behind the Hungarian team, putting more and more pressure on the visitors. The second half was very similar to the first but with the roles twisted: this time, FTC was in front all the time. However, they couldn’t break the Russians to reach a comfortable advantage: the costant difference between one and three goals promised exciting final minutes. FTC was concentrating and had more power for the “money time” so the biggest margin between the two teams in favor of the guests came in the last seconds of the game: FTC won 33-28, grabbing the second place of the group and taking 5 points to the Main Round. 18-year-old Karina Sabirova netted 11 times against the Hungarians. Despite the 0 points taken to the next stage, the Russians can’t be sad by any means: reaching the Main Round is a big achievement for the young team.
EHF Champions League, Group B, 6th round
Astrakhanochka – FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria 28-33 (14-14)
Astrakhanochka: K. Sabirova 11, K. Kozhokar 5, N. Chigirinova 4, L. Postnova 3, E. Levsha 2, E. Zelenkova 2, K. Sisenova 1
FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria: Z. Szucsánszki 7, N. Pena 7, N. Schatzl 5, M. Jovanovic 4, D. Hornyák 3, D. Snelder 3, D. Faluvégi 1, V. Lukács 1, A. Szarka 1, K. Szekeres 1
The final result of Group B:
1. ZRK Vardar Skopje 11 points
2. FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria 9 points
3. Astrakhanochka 2 points
4. HC Leipzig 2 points