After a somewhat disappointing group phase for the defending champions CSM Bucuresti, the Romanian team has to raise the bar to reach the quarterfinals in the Champions League. CSM reached the Main Round by defeating Rostov twice in the group matches, however, with Rostov’s goodbye, these 4 points couldn’t be converted in the Main Round. So the defending champions only took 2 points to the next stage: their home victory against FC Midtjylland. The eternal Norwegian champions Larvik took 4 points – however, their two defeats against Krim Ljubljana were not included in the calculations before.
To make themselves an easier way to the quarterfinals, the title holders would have to win at least the home matches. That was what Larvik wanted to avoid right in the opening match of the Main Round. The Norwegians started the match better than their opponent (1-3), but CSM was not this easy to break. The Romanians found the rhythm of their game with a better defense and more accurate attacks mostly led by Isabelle Gulldén and Linnea Torstensson, and went in front by 4 goals (9-5). When everything seemed to be on the right track for the Romanians, Larvik suddenly raised the bar and CSM had no answer for the Norwegian run. The last 10 minutes were clearly about Larvik as the Norwegians went to the halftime break with a one-goal advantage, thanks to a last second shocker from Kristine Breistol.
CSM would have had to lift up their level if they wanted to secure their first win in the Main Round, but that was not the way the second half started. Larvik went on confidently with some spectacular goals from Amanda Kurtovic, while the Romanians did much more mistakes than acceptable in this period of the game. The way Larvik played was also far from flawless, but CSM didn’t have the answer for Larvik’s attack. Neither their defense, nor their goalkeeper performance was near the expected, and Larvik used the Romanian mistakes very well. After the third quarter of the game, the title holders seemed to be in serious trouble (15-19) and Larvik’s lead was well-deserved. The trouble seemed deeper and deeper as the final whistle was coming close. Even though Bucuresti equalized by 21-21, Larvik still had some words to say to make it 23-26 with less than 2 and a half minutes to go. However, it was not Larvik who had the last say in the game – 2 and a half minutes were enough for CSM to save a point at home (26-26). This one point is probably better for Larvik – even though maybe they would have deserved more…
EHF Champions League – Main Round Group II – Round 1
CSM Bucuresti – Larvik HK 26-26 (12-13)
CSM Bucuresti: I. Gulldén 6, G. Niombla 5, L. Torstensson 5, C. Ayglon Saurina 4, M. Mehmedovic 3, C. Martín 2, A. Lobach 1
Larvik HK: A. Kurtovic 7, L.K. Riegelhuth Koren 5, T. Mörk 4, K. Breistol 3, T. Stange 3, G. Hammerseng-Edin 2, M. Frafjord 1, A. Hammerseng-Edin 1
Penalties: 4/5 ; 3/4
Suspensions: 6 minutes ; 6 minutes