|20.04.2009, 09:40||◄ last page|
Valcea were close to a miracle, but Viborg clinched a draw at the end.
Fantastic Dinu was not enough
For the fourth time in the history of the club, Viborg HK reached the Final of the Women’s Champions League. They had to fight harder at home against Olthcim Valcea than expected after an impressive 34-28 win in Romania.
Actually, the Romanian champions managed level the six-goal difference twice during the match in Viborg before the game finished in a 21-21 draw. Viborg secured the Final with a 55-49 aggregate win.
In the first match in Valcea, Viborg were leading all the time. The second match was quite different. Three Viborg shots hit the post and three early seven-meter goals from Narcissa Lecusanu gave a 5-1 lead to Valcea.
When the goal-posts could not save Oltchim, then came Luminita Dinu. The 37-year old veteran Romanian did a marvellous job and performed no less than 21 saves within 60 minutes including Viborg’s first 7-meter shot. Her performance was loudly celebrated by the 70 Oltchim fans who had taken the long trip to Viborg by bus to support their team. They were cheering “Hutupan, Hutupan,” the maiden name of the superb goalkeeper.
Solid Valcea defence
In front of Dinu, Valcea had a fantastic defence, which created further problems for Viborg. And while the Danish champions did very well in defence, they had big problems scoring goals. After 18 minutes they only scored 4 goals, which is highly unusual for Viborg. The Danes converted only 27% of their shots. At half time, Valcea were leading 12-8 and were only two goals behind in aggregate
In the second half, the visitors also started better and at 14-8 they equalised Viborg s lead from the first match for the first time. This happened again at 15-9, before Viborg managed to take calm fans down by three goals in succession (12-15).
Towards the end, Viborg seemed to have more physical resources and Valcea players appeared tired. They aimed less precisely and Katrine Lune Haraldsen in the Viborg goal could improve her saving percentage in the last quarter of an hour.
Viborg came closer in this period and at the end there was no doubt which team would reach the Final. Viborg’s Grit Jurack received a red card with four and a half minutes left, but it had no significance anymore. Viborg managed to equalise at 21-21 with a minute and a half left – the first time since 1-1. With 22 seconds left, Henriette Mikkelsen even had the chance to score the winning goal for the hosts on a fast-break. Quite symptomatic, however – and maybe also deserved – Dinu’s 21st save was the last action in the match.
Defence and fast-breaks decide
“Our weak start made us nervous and we got even more nervous by falling further behind. However, I think our defence saved us again. At half time, we agreed that our defence could get us into the Champion League Final and I think this happened. We also scored from fast-breaks when it was crucial in the second half,” Viborg coach Jakob Vestergaard told eurohandball.com after the match.
German line player, Anja Althaus, was Viborg’s top scorer with 6 goals. Narcissa Lecusanu scored also six for Valcea – all from 7-meter shots.
TEXT: Peter Bruun