VfL Oldenburg secure spot in next qualification round
Six matches played over the weekend marked the return of the EHF European League Women. VfL Oldenburg had an easy trip to Greece, with a clear win and a draw in the doubleheader against A.C. PAOK, they progressed further to qualification round 1. Molde Elite beat Dijon and have a good ground ahead of the rematch at home next week.
Costa del Sol Malaga's last five minutes of the game secured a three-goal win against Larvik. Hypo Niederösterreich put a smile on their fans' faces after an exciting game against Önnereds HK. HC Dunarea Braila led by their new head coach Jan Leslie snatch a last-minute win.
- 11 out of 12 field players scored at least once for VfL Oldenburg in their first match against A.C. PAOK, leading to the 37:22 win
- Katarina Tomašević's 11 saves at 36 per cent save efficiency helped PAOK to say farewell to the second-tier competition with a draw
- Christine Alver and Celina Vatne scored half of their team's goals in an away 35:29 win against JDA Bourgogne Dijon Handball, both netting nine times
- five times EHF Champions League winner, Heidi Løke's seven goals were not enough for Larvik to win against Costa del Sol Malaga; her sister Lise and niece Astrid also play for Larvik
- Hypo Niederösterreich welcomed their first European win after having lost their six previous qualification matches in the past three seasons
- Maria Kanaval, Aneta Udristioiu, Jelena Živković and Mirey Gonzalez netted 21 out of Dunarea Braila's 30 goals in a hard-fought win against Valur
VfL Oldenburg were confident in both games played this weekend and secured an all-German clash against HSG Bensheim/Auerbach qualification round 3. The first game went VfL Oldenburg's way as they propelled to an eight-goal lead already at halftime with the help of Lia Borutta's eight goals. PAOK came close only once when Ana Vrančić narrowed the gap to 10:7. When the German side hit the first double-digit lead after ten minutes that was it for PAOK's hopes.
In the re-match, only two days later, there was little question as to whether the German side would progress further. Without pressure on both sides, PAOK gave a good defensive display, especially in the second half. Even though Oldenrbug were in front by three on a few occasions, the home team sealed a draw with the help of Eleni Ioanna Kerlidi whose three goals all came in the last seven minutes of the game.
The 2022/23 group phase contestant Molde Elite are on a good way to progress further. Thanks to an outstanding performance from goalkeeper, Ine Stangvik, Molde gained a significant lead in the first half. Dijon stuggled in attack, converting only 36 per cent of the shots but managed to get back on track in the second half. Nina Perret and Celine Sivertsen, led the French comeback, splitting 11 goals between them, but it was not enough. As Molde's defence faltered, their attack, led by Celina Vatne and Christine Alver, made up for it and with three straight goals they sealed a comfortable win.
The 2020/21 EHF European Cup champions are coming back home with a win. The Spanish side delivered a strong performance in the closing minutes of the game and with a series of four goals left Larvik disappointed. The first half was fast-paced handball and while Larvik had a wide range of shooters, Elisabet Romero and Estela Rodríguez led Malaga in scoring. Handball legend, Heidi Løke pushed the home side to a three-goal lead, but they did not respond well in the crucial part of the game. Down by one, Larvik had a chance to make a turnaround but instead, Malaga's duo was unstoppable making the most of the opponent's mistakes to extend the lead to the eventual 31:35 final score.
Önnereds HK return to European competition after 15 years did not end with a positive outcome. Hypo Niederösterreich sealed a win in the closing moments of the game backed by the support of their fans. Apart from a 2:1 lead at the start, Önnereds were trailing all the way until the 40th minute of the match as Andrea Pavković and Patricia Kovacs were netting with ease for the home side. However, the tide shifted with Line Rusten's appearance and the Swedish side took their second lead in the game (25:24). It was all or nothing as both sides strengthened their defences and brought the game to an exciting finish. Both sides had a chance for a win, as both Jenny Sandgren and Petra Blažek stopped a few shots, but Claudia Wess secured a celebration in BSFZ Südstadt as she brought her tally to seven.
It was a good start for Dunarea Braila's new head coach, Jan Leslie, who took over the team only four days prior to the game in Iceland even though the Braila did not take an easy win. Duanrea Braila took a three-goal lead at half-time thanks to Elena Serban's seven saves at 37 per cent save efficiency, but in the second half Valur's back-court line made the Romanian side sweat as they narrowed the gap with each passing minute. When Thea Imani Sturludottir scored to make it 26:26, the hunt was on. In a goal-for-goal game the last one came from Jelena Živković who sealed Braila's win with her fifth as yet another Sturludottir's attempt did not find its way to the net.
photos Oldenburg (c) Thomie Antoniadou