The Group I in the Main Round finished the 2nd round already on Saturday. The first 3 teams won their matches: Buducnost walked over Astrakhanochka and FTC defeated Thüringer HC easily, but Vardar had to fight hard for the two points in Skopje against Metz.
Astrakhanochka – Buducnost 21-34 (9-18)
Astrakhanochka: K. Sabirova 7, M. Tazhenova 3, K. Kozhokar 2, K. Sorokina 2, E. Zelenkova 2, E. Levsha 1, Postnova 1, L. Rachiteleva 1, M. Shaposhnikova 1, A. Sisenova 1
Buducnost: C. Neagu 8, K. Bulatovic 7, N. Irman 5, K. Achruk 4, D. Jaukovic 3, I. Grbic 2, E. Ramusovic 2, V. Agovic 1, M. Pletikosic 1, D. Ujkic 1
Even though both teams lost their match in the first round of the Main Round, the situation of the two teams can’t be compared. Although Astrakhanochka didn’t come to the Main Round with the hands held high, there was no doubt about the Montenegrin superpower’s superiority. Traveling to Russia is never easy and the Russian teams are usually a tough nut to crack on home soil, but the young and ambitious Russians were only able to stay in the match in the first few minutes. Buducnost demonstrated their power throughout the game, deciding the outcome of the match right in the first half. Even though Astrakhanochka showed some spirit, Buducnost simply ran over them. As usual, the top scorer of the Russians was Karina Sabirova, despite her red card in the second half. Buducnost marched over Astrakhanochka 34-21 – their victory is convincing, although the Russian team is not the strongest they would meet this season. As for Astrakhanochka, this was their seventh straight defeat in their eight matches.
FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria – Thüringer HC 32-24 (15-10)
FTC: D. Hornyák 4, N. Schatzl 4, D. Snelder 4, Z. Szucsánszki 4, A. Kovacsics 3, N. Pena 3, V. Lukács 2, R. Mészáros 2, A. Szarka 2, K. Szekeres 2, D. Faluvégi 1, M. Jovanovic 1
Thüringer HC: M. Houette 4, M. Schmelzer 4, K. Wohlbold 4, Sz. Planéta 3, K. Engel 2, L. Jakubisova 2, M. Aguilar 1, M. Kiedrowski 1, J. Krause 1, I. Luzumova 1, B. Scheffknecht 1
After long years of waiting, FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria returned to their home, to the renovated Gyula Elek Arena for the Main Round. Their plan was to celebrate this happy event with a confident victory against Thüringer HC. The beginning of the match went according to the plan: the defense of FTC and Blanka Bíró in the goal seemed to work well together as it was almost impossible for Thüringer HC to score. After just 10 minutes played, they found themselves 4 goals behind. However, a German team should never be underestimated: Herbert Müller’s team found the way into the game and in the second part of the first half, they gave a tough time for the hosts. They had more occasions to level the score but in the last five minutes, FTC was superior again and made it back to 5 goals for the final whistle, with Bíró saving an overtime penalty. The second half was going in the same rhythm as the last minutes of the first, it became a walk in the park for the Hungarians. The difference grew to two digits more times but in the end, THC was able to avoid the -10.
ZRK Vardar – Metz Handball 23-21 (13-11)
ZRK Vardar: S. Damnjanovic 5, A. Lacrabere 4, A. Althaus 3, A. Penezic 3, J. Radicevic 3, T. Khmyrova 2, T. Mavsar 2, A. Lekic 1
Metz Handball: A. Gros 5, S. Pop-Lazic 4, X. Smits 4, J. Luciano 3, L. Glauser 1, T. Horacek 1, O. Kanor 1, H. Sajka 1, G. Zaadi 1
Vardar being the only team without a single defeat in the whole competition, a confident home victory was expected from the Macedonian powerhouse, even though Metz is anything but an easy opponent for anyone. The French team that defeated Buducnost in the Group Phase proved the truth behind this sentence right from the beginning. They didn’t let Vardar play inside their comfort zone and were in front several times during the first period of the match. In the second quarter of the match, Vardar seemed to be finding the rhythm and turned the game around, having a two-goal lead at halftime. The second half looked a lot better for the Macedonians as they were able to work out a more comfortable lead against the Frenchwomen. Entering the last quarter of the game, Vardar managed to keep Metz in a comfortable distance but an unexpected comeback turned the match into a nail-biter. Metz suddenly switched to a higher speed and punished the mistakes while Vardar was struggling without Andrea Penezic who left the court injured. When Laura Glauser netted against the empty goal, the French team was only one goal behind. The key to the victory was in Alexandra Lacrabere’s hand less than a minute before the end, but she missed the penalty that gave Metz a chance to go for one point – without a goalkeeper. But a lost ball meant the end of the story for Metz tonight: Jovanka Radicevic’s goal from her own half a few seconds before the end secured Vardar their seventh victory.