|16.05.2010, 13:30||◄ last page|
Danish team defends Women’s EHF Champions League title.
Viborg triumphant in Bucharest
No real surprise in Bucharest, as Viborg HK of Denmark defeated Oltchim Valcea of Romania in front of 6,000 passionate spectators to win the EHF Champions League for the second consecutive time, and the third time in the last 5 years.
Despite heavy rain in Bucharest, the red and blue decorated Oltchim fans gathered hours before the game in Parcul Tineretului, a youth park for amusement, to sing their club’s anthems as they awaited a real handball spectacle in the return leg of the EHF Champions League final. The hall was filled to capacity, with the full house greeting the teams with great enthusiasm and a wall of sound from voices, drums, and air-horns.
Oltchim coach Radu Voina didn’t name pregnant Adina Fiera for the match – the 25 year-old left-back awaits twins. As a replacement 190 cm tall Ukrainian sniper Anastasiya Pidpalova was linked with left-winger Valentina Ardean-Elisei, who gave a comeback to the EHF Champions League after her injury.
In the early minutes, the Danes had some trouble in defence and the home team exploited those holes in the wall to make the better start. It took Viborg ten minutes to rearrange their defensive plan, then the teams were head to head again.
As soon as right back Grit Jurack entered the fray, the Romanian defence totally collapsed. From both her and Bojana Popovic on the left hand side many clear-cut shots came on target.
Very soon it became clear that Oltchim coach Radu Voina’s tactics to block or stop the back-court duo of his opponent would not be successful. His players tried to man-mark one of them, or both of them, but they often failed, and the duo scored half of the Danish goals in the match.
German Jurack, who, amazingly, was returning to handball just over two months after giving birth, was in top form, scoring 11 goals and being named as the best player of the match.
On the other side the Romanian back-court had it very difficult against the strong Danish defence. Voina’s players acted very tentatively in the first half, when passes didn’t work-out, and Pidpalova and her team mates often lost the ball.
Viborg quickly ran successful counter-attacks, so that in the second half, Vestergaard’s girls were already leading by a margin of 4 goals, being 11 goals on aggregate. Despite the big gap between the two teams, the home spectators kept rooting for their team loudly, but the faces of the Oltchim players told everything: the game was out of control, and Viborg was the winner.
The Danish players however, seemed to get the scent of victory too early and were probably, in their heads, already lifting the Champions League trophy. Their concentration levels dropped, Oltchim recognised this, and went all-out for a dramatic come-back. Seven minutes before the final whistle, the scores were at level, an exciting final phase began.
Voina’s team wanted to bid a nice farewell with a win, whilst Viborg wanted the double of winning home and away. It was a tight end phase, but with Bojana Popovic’s goal, Viborg deservedly won 32:31.
With Viborg’s successful defence of the Champions League title from last year, Danish dominance continued. Since 2003/2004 all CL titles have gone to Danish teams, except for season 2007/2008, when Zvezda Zvenigorod of Russia celebrated victory.
To crown the CL success story for the Scandinavians, Viborg’s Cristina Varzaru became top goal-scorer of the season with her 101 goals.
The Romanians still were proud of their second place and will start their next EHF Champions League mission armed with some reinforcements, and hope to bring home the trophy next time.
Gorica Acimovic: “I’m extremely happy that we won. It’s my first time celebrating the EHF Champions League title after losing in the final with Hypo-NÖ in 2008. I can’t describe how great I feel now. I think the difference was seen in both our defensive and attacking game plans. Right now we’re just superior to other clubs. We know each other very well in the team and that makes it easy to play as a unit and win.”
Henriette Mikkelsen: “It’s a fantastic feeling to celebrate after such a victory in Bucharest. The EHF Champions League is the highest-ranked tournament for clubs and finally we achieved our target to win it again after such a hard season.”
Radu Voina, coach of Oltchim Valcea: “That’s sport, sometimes you win - sometimes you lose. Today we feel very sad about losing the final, but we have to admit that we faced a strong team. We wanted to show that we’re better than in the lost game in Denmark. The Danes have lots of experience of playing in finals, whereas we don’t. I hope that next year we’ll have the chance to play in the final again, but with a different outcome.”
Narcisa Lecusanu, who is retiring at the end of the season: “Too bad we couldn’t get a better result in front of our fantastic spectators. Congratulations to Viborg. They fought bravely and, all-in-all, they deservedly won the EHF Champions League. With regard to my future, I’ve reached an age where I feel I should retire. I’m very glad that I’ve been a part of this highly professional club, Oltchim Valcea, but now it’s time to say farewell.”
TEXT: Márk Hegedüs