Women’s EHF Champions League debutants Team Esbjerg secured the last remaining place in the 2016/17 main round with a clear win against IK Sävehof on the last day of group phase matches.
• Team Esbjerg take two points with them to the main round, while Sävehof continue in the Women’s EHF Cup Group Phase
• Sävehof are missing the EHF Champions League Main Round for the first time in four seasons
• Esbjerg are the second Danish team in the main round this season, as FC Midtjylland qualified in Round 5
GROUP D Team Esbjerg (DEN) vs IK Sävehof (SWE) 29:18 (15:9)
A draw would have been enough for Team Esbjerg to qualify for the main round, but the game on Sunday afternoon in Blue Water Dokken was never even near a draw. Esbjerg led all the way and celebrated their main round berth in their first ever Champions League campaign with an 11-goal victory.
Goalkeepers in focus
The two Swedish national team goalkeepers, Filippa Idéhn for Esbjerg and Johanna Bundsen for Sävehof, were in focus in the first half.
A stellar performance from Idéhn contributed significantly to Esbjerg taking an early 11:4 lead, and it was an improving effort from Bundsen that brought Sävehof into the game.
The visitors reduced the distance to three goals at 9:12, but three goals for Esbjerg within the last 90 seconds of the period gave the home team a six-goal lead at half-time.
Esbjerg increasingly dominant
For great parts of the second half, Esbjerg coach Lars Frederiksen had success playing seven-against-six keeping left back Jenny Alm at the middle line, ready to intervene in case Sävehof’s defence moved forward.
This reduced Sävehof coach Henrik Signell’s tactical options, while an increasingly improving Idéhn helped the hosts tighten their grip on the game as the second half went on.
Idéhn reached a save rate of 51 per cent as Esbjerg pulled 11 goals ahead by the final whistle.
Sunday’s game was the last in the group, and means that RK Krim Mercator take six points with them to the main round, while Larvik carry four and Esbjerg two.
The three teams will be facing Györi Audi ETO KC, FC Midtjylland and CSM Bucuresti in Group 2 of the main round.