SUMMARY: Vipers and CSM book QF tickets; Neagu hits the milestone in MOTW
Round 12 has begun on Saturday, 21 Jan with Buducnost celebrating over Lokomotiva, Vipers defeating Odense and Metz celebrating a last-second win over Györ. On Sunday we've seen CSM defeat Bietigheim in the MOTW, Brest celebrate against Ferencvaros, Krim Mercator secure a comfortable win over Banik Most, Rapid win against Kastamonu and Esbjerg dominate Storhamar on the road.
- on Saturday, WHC Buducnost BEMAX prove too strong for Lokomotiva , Vipers become the first team to claim quarter-final spot , and Valentini secures last-gasp victory for Metz
- on Sunday, Krim stay alive with another big win over Most , Neagu hits milestone as CSM celebrate with a win , Brest deliver crucial win against FTC , Reistad leads Esbjerg to big win once again, and Rapid extend unbeaten home streak
- watch live on EHFTV (geo-restrictions may apply)
SUNDAY, 22 JANUARY
With that, we are ending our EHF Champions League Women round 12 coverage.
In weeks that are ahead, we will see the situation unravel with the race for the quarter-final tickets being as narrow as ever. Keep an eye out for our round previews and all the different features as we start preparing for what lies ahead!
As we are slowly finishing with the EHF Champions League Women round 12 live blog, we are bringing you all the round 12 results. From buzzer-beater wins all the way to dominant, record-breaking victories, we've had it all in the round that is now behind us.
With all eight EHF Champions League Women round 12 matches now behind us, feel free to get back to any of them you'd like to see once again - at least some of the best moments, on our YouTube channel!
In case you are waiting for the photo gallery from our final two matches of the day - here it is! We are also bringing you the reviews containing all the stats, facts and figures of all the matches we've seen today.
17:40 | FULL-TIME
A comfortable +6 win for Rapid at home although it did not look like that up until those final five minutes of the game when hosts managed to additionally increase the tempo and widen the gap to a delight of their incredible fans. In the end six goals for Estavana Polman and 17 saves for Diana Ciuca and Ivana Kapitanovic combined. On the other side, remarkable performance from Merve Durdu who finished the game with 17 saves while Mouna Chebbah netted five. Win keeps Rapid on the fourth place of group B with the same amount of points as second-placed Györ and third-positioned Esbjerg while Kastamonu remain seventh.
In the end, let's have a look at the scenes in Bucharest right after the final whistle.
After widening the gap to ten goals in the middle of the second half, Team Esbjerg slowed down a bit which is why the result is as it is in the end. Henny Reistad finished the game with seven goals while Mette Tranborg and Marti Rosberg Jacobsen added five each. Kristine Breistol handed out six assists. With this result, Esbjerg remains third in the group B standings, with the same amount of points as Györ but with just a tiny bit worse goal difference (+79 against Györ's +84) while Storhamar remains sixth.
And the final look at the full-time statistics.
Entering the final five minutes of our final two games for today, we have Esbjerg leading Storhamar 33:21 and Rapid Bucuresti leading 24:18 against Kastamonu.
In case both Rapid and Esbjerg manage to stay in front and take two points each, both teams will remain in the race for top two positions in group A. Esbjerg and Rapid currently have 16 points each, Györ has 18 and Metz 21.
Merve Durdu is doing amazing between the posts for Kastamonu, but there was simply nothing she could do against this attempt from Orlane Kanor.
Merve Durdu has managed to open the second half in a splendid fashion. With a little over 15 minutes left to go in this one she is already at 14 saves helping Kastamonu narrow the gap to only -2 (18:16).
In Norway, on the other hand, Esbjerg has opened the gap to double digits with 15 minutes left on the clock. The result is 18:28 and we have to highlight Kristine Breistol and her big six assists.
Five minutes into the second, Esbjerg keep on applying the pressure not allowing hosts to narrow the gap and get back into this one. Henny Reistad is already at seven goals scored in this one as Esbjerg lead 24:16.
In Bucharest, Rapid is thriving early in the second on the wings of an incredible atmosphere created by their supporters. Diana Ciuca grabs as few saves as hosts take an 18:14 lead.
16:41 | HALF-TIME
A tight and narrow match in Romanian capital with favored hosts dictating the tempo, but so far not managing to widen the gap and sail towards a desired victory. One of the main reasons is Merve Durdu and her eighth saves between the posts for the Turkish side. Experienced Mouna Chebbah scored three first-half goals while Eliza Buceschi netted five on the other side. Despite of Rapid leading after the first half, it is clear this one will be decided in the second half!
Norwegian hosts were able to stay close to favored Esbjerg for about 10-15 minutes. After that, Esbjerg managed to tighten up the defense while at the same time improving the offensive pace with Nora Mork, Henny Reistad and Marit Rosberg Jacobsen dictating the tempo in attack. Big +8 after the first 30 minutes in favor of guests from Denmark. Let's have a look at the half-time stats.
Nora Mork shines with two goals and four assists, Henny Reistad adds five, Marit Rosberg Jacobsen four as Esbjerg widen the gap to six goals (10:16) with five minutes left until the half-time buzzer in Norway.
When Majda Mehmedovic jumps from the wing, there is no such thing as 'too narrow of an angle'.
A little over 15 minutes into our 16.00 CET encounters, Esbjerg leads Storhamar 6:8 with Henny Reistad and Vilde Ingstad starting the match off in the right way scoring three goals each.
In Bucharest, Romania on the other hand, the result is 8:8. Eliza Buceschi is taking care of business in attack for Rapid scoring five goals already while Simone Böhme, Katarina Jezic and Mouna Chebbah have two each for Kastamonu.
Final shout-out to our EHF Champions League Women round 12 MOTW POTM Malin Larsen Aune ...
... and Cristina Neagu - newest member of the EHF CLW 1000-goal club. Congrats!
With the games Rapid Bucuresti - Kastamonu and Storhamar - Esbjerg only seconds away, let's take a quick look at some of the best photos from our first three matches of the day!
MOTW is behind us, which means there is not much time left until we get see EHF Champions League Women round 12 unravel in group B with fourth-positioned Rapid Bucuresti welcoming Kastamonu and third-positioned Esbjerg playing Storhamar away from home. As a reminder, despite having the same amount of points, Esbjerg is ahead of Rapid due to better goal difference.
15:40 | FULL TIME
A win over German Bietigheim in our MOTW launches CSM Bucuresti to the top of EHF CLW group A. Malin Larsen Aune finished the match with six goals which earned her the MOTW Player of the Match title while Cristina Neagu managed to reach the 1000-goal milestone scoring five goals in this one - just the number of goals she needed to join Jovanka Radicevic and Anita Görbicz in that exclusive company.
A final look at the full-time statistics from our EHF CLW round 12 MOTW.
Julie Foggea grabbed 16 saves in this one paving the way for the French team to celebrate in this match. Djurdjina Jaukovic added seven goals for Brest Bretagne while Emily Bölk finished the match with four goals for Hungarian Ferencvaros.
Where do we even start with this one. Incredible 42 goals scored, nine goals for Montenegrin goal machine Jovanka Radicevic and amazing 19 combined saves for Barbara Arenhart and Jovana Risovic as Krim Mercator celebrate a big home win over Banik Most. Charlotte Cholevova, on the other side, finished the match with nine goals for Banik Most.
And there it is - with less than a minute to go in our EHF Champions League Women round 12 MOTW, Cristina Neagu scores her fifth of the night, a spinning beauty that books a ticket for her in an exclusive company of Jovanka Radicevic and Anita Görbitz. Congratulations!
We are entering the final three minutes of our EHF CLW round 12 MOTW with 23:25 in favour of CSM Bucuresti. As a reminder, Cristina Neagu needs only one more goal to reach the EHF CLW 1000-goal milestone.
Jovanka Radicevic finished the first half with seven goals for Krim Mercator Ljubljana against DHK Banik Most. Now she's already at nine with a great opportunity of going for a double-figure number in this one.
Remarkable 6:1 series to start the second half puts Bietigheim up 18:16 with a little less than 20 minutes left to go in our EHF Champions League Women round 12 MOTW! German defense appears to be on a whole different level than in the first half.
Seven minutes into the second, the score is tied at 16:16 in Ludwigsburg. In Slovenia, Krim Mercator leads 32:20 and in France, Brest Bretagne managed to widen the gap to four (17:13).
Quick-fire double for Bietigheim as they enter the second half in the best possible way closing the gap to only -1 (14:15).
Kelly Dulfer is having a day so far against CSM Bucuresti. The distance to the goal doesn't appear to be the problem for her.
14:45 | HALF-TIME
We were looking at a pretty equal game until about five minutes before the half-time whistle when CSM Bucuresti managed to tighten up the defense after one time-out, grabbing a few steals and eventually scoring a few easy goals. Marie Davidsen is doing a fine job between posts with seven saves so far while Malin Larsen scored three for CSM. Inger Smits and Kelly Dulfer added just as much for Bietigheim. Cristina Neagu finished the first half with two goals which means she needs three more to reach the EHF CLW 1000-goal milestone.
Let's have a look at the first-half stats of our round 12 MOTW.
Djurdjina Jaukovic scored four for Brest in the first half while Julie Foggea added eight saves as French team leads Hungarian Ferencvaros after opening 30 minutes of the game. Emily Bölk, Antje Angela Malestein and Andrea Lekic netted three each for guests.
What a day Krim Mercator Ljubljana is having against DHK Banik Most. Amazing 24 goals in the first half alone with Jovanka Radicevic scoring seven and Daria Dmitrieva adding six while Barbara Arenhart already grabbed 11 saves. Charlotte Cholevova scored six for DHK Banik Most. The deal appears to be sealed in this one already.
With four minutes left on the clock in the first, Elizabeth Omoregie scores her second of the day to give CSM Bucuresti their first three-goal lead at 13:10.
In Ljubljana, Krim Mercator seem to be willing to take care of the job early having an 18:11 lead going into the final ten minutes of the first. Jovanka Radicevic appears to be eager to welcome Cristina Neagu to EHF CLW 1000-goal club in the right fashion going for five goals against Banik Most already.
In Brest we are, on the other hand, watching a much closer game with hosts currently leading 12:9.
Elizabeth Omoregie finds the perfect way to open up Bietigheim's defense early on.
A little less than 20 minutes in, Bietigheim - CSM Bucuresti 9:9.
Six minutes into the game Cristina Neagu fires her first shot past Melinda Szikora between Bietigheim's post to put CSM up 2:3. German team answers quickly with two goals, overtaking the lead at 4:3.
And off we go! First possession in Ludwigsburg goes to the away team - CSM Bucuresti.
With only a few minutes left until the throw-offs in Ludwigsburg as well as Brest and Ljubljana, let's have a look at the standings of the EHF Champions League Women group A.
Cristina Neagu of CSM Bucuresti is this season's EHF Champions League Women leading scorer with 85 goals and she is only five goals short of reaching the 1000-goal milestone in the EHF Champions League Women and joining an exclusive company that, at the moment, features only two players - Jovanka Radicevic and Anita Görbicz.
Only 15 minutes left until the first whistle of our MOTW between SG BBM Bietigheim and CSM Bucuresti and the fans are slowly crowding the MHP Arena in Ludwigsburg, Germany!
Other than our MOTW, we have two more group A games coming up from 14.00 CET with Krim Mercator Ljubljana welcoming Banik Most and Brest Bretagne hosting Ferencvaros. As said, Kristianstad and CSM have already managed to secure their quarter-finals tickets, and on the other hand, Banik Most will most certainly finish the group stage as eighth-placed team. The race for additional four Play-offs spots is, however as interesting as ever and the outcomes of these two matches will surely play a part in the final decision!
Starting from 14.00 CET, our main focus will of course be on our MOTW between Bietigheim and CSM Bucuresti.
In group A, the situation is clear when it comes to the two teams that will advance directly through to the quarter-finals - with yesterday's win over Odense, Vipers have managed to seal the deal for themselves and, as a result of that, for CSM Bucharest as well. Bietigheim is, on the other hand, still in the race for the third spot in group A which would probably secure the German side a somewhat better matchup in the play-offs.
And if you still need an extra reason to follow this match, Cristina Neagu will surely try today to score at least five goals to become the third player ever to surpass the 1000-goal milestone in the EHF Champions League Women.
As an additional intro, feel free to check out the interview with the team captain of Bietigheim Xenia Smits in which she talked not only about the upcoming encounter with CSM Bucuresti, but also Bietigheim's ambitions for the season!
The live blog is up and running! Yesterday, we have had a great first day of the EHF Champions League Women round 12 that was finished by Chloe Valentini's buzzer-beater goal that helped her Metz Handball come out on top against Györ while Vipers, on the other hand, defeated Odense becoming the first team to book an EHF Champions League Women quarter-final spot.
As said, we are now back and preparing for an action-filled EHF Champions League Women Sunday!
SATURDAY, 21 JANUARY
We are ending the first day of our EHF Champions League Women round 12 coverage with the three match articles containing all the facts, stats and figures you need to know going forward.
Once again, don't forget we have five more matches scheduled for Sunday with one of them being our MOTW. Live blog will be up and running from 13.00 CET to get you ready for another day of EHF Champions League Women handball.
We have talked about it already, but what a moment for Chloe Valentini and her Metz Handball as they secure a last-second win over EHF CLW vice-champions Györ in front of a packed hall full of their supporters. That's worth watching at least a couple more times!
As the day is slowly coming to an end, we are bringing you a glance at some of the best photos from our last two games of the day - Odense vs. Vipers and Metz vs. Györ.
What a night it was! We've seen two goalkeepers reach 15 saves - Katrine Lunde and Armelle Attingre, reigning champions Vipers Kristianstad have managed to become the first team to book a ticket for the EHF Champions League Women quarter-finals in an incredible fashion and Chloe Valentini decided the top -of-the-group clash between Metz and Györ in the final second helping the French team open the gap to three points on top of the group B.
And tomorrow the schedule is even busier with five games, one of which is the MOTW in which Bietigheim will host CSM Bucuresti. A lot of excitement coming up as we are slowly but steadily approaching the end of the EHF Champions League Women group stage.
19:40 | FULLTIME
In an incredibly narrow and tough match we've seen a real battle for the top spot in the group. Despite leading 27:28 going into the final minute of the game, Györ ended up losing the game with Jörgensen first scoring from the seven-meter line and then stealing the ball from Oftedal on the other side of the court only to provide Valentini with a chance to win the game with the last-second counter-attack. With this win, Metz remain first in group B with 21 points - three more than Györ and five more than third-placed Esbjerg.
Vipers Kristianstad in the end managed to secure a comfortable 24:34 win away from home in Denmark overtaking the top spot in group A at least until tomorrow as they are now leveled with CSM Bucuresti which is a game behind.
Katrine Lunde finished the match with 15 saves while Marketa Jarebkova netted eight goals. Jamina Roberts added seven from just as much attempts. Rikke Iversen and Mie Enggrob Hojlund, on the other hand, netted six each for Odense.
And now, final look at the full-time stats from Denmark.
With a little less than four minutes left until the final buzzer, Ana Gros of Györ scores her tenth goal of the night bringing the Hungarian team their first lead since 14:15. The score is 26:27 in favor of Györ.
In Denmark, players of Vipers Kristianstad are cruising towards a new win which would help them book a direct ticket for EHF Champions League Women quarter-finals. With about 12 minutes left in the encounter, the result is 21:28 in favor of Vipers.
In France, hosts are doing their best to stay in front with Hungarian team pushing all the time. The result is currently 24:21 in favor of the home team.
This makes us think, can you even have a 'clear scoring opportunity' when facing Katrine Lunde of Vipers Kristianstad?
Metz was once again able to start the half the right way playing smart on the defensive side of the court and focusing on the quick transition which allowed primarily Bruna de Paula and Tamara Horacek to score some easy goals and push the French team towards an 18: 15 lead a little less than ten minutes into the second.
In Denmark, on the other hand, Vipers kept on widening the gap with Anna Vyakhireva and Jamina Roberts dictating the tempo, handing out 11 assists and combining for six goals combined in the first 40 minutes of the game. The score is 15:20 in favor of the team from Norway.
Mie Enggrob Hojlund proved to be a real problem for Vipers Kristianstad in the first half. Incredible way to open up the defense and pave the way for a few assists for the line player.
18:37 | HALFTIME
Despite of trailing by as much as five goals (9:4) in the middle of the first, Györ has managed to turn it around completing the full comeback before the half-time buzzer. Ana Gros played a key part in that second part of the first half finishing the first 30 with as much as six goals. Hatadou Sako, on the other side, managed to stop 35% of shots heading her way helping her team open up the gap early on but, unfortunately for their fans, they were not able to hold on to it which means we have an exciting second helped ahead of us.
Katrine Lunde grabbed eight saves in the first half helping reigning champions go to the break with a two-goal advantage. Marketa Jerabkova finished the first half with four goals for Vipers while Rikke Iversen added just as much for Odense. Here are the half-time stats from Denmark.
Ana Gros appears to be virtually unstoppable scoring six out of Györ's ten goals so far. She is, without doubt one of the key reasons why Hungarian team managed to narrow the gap to only one goal (11:10) with only a few minutes left on the clock in the first half.
Anna Vyakhireva is working hard to get her teammates involved with one goal and four assists so far as Vipers lead 11:10 in Odense. Mie Enggrob Hojlund is having a good day so far on the other side with two goals and just as much assists.
Metz defense appears to be working incredibly well early on versus EHF CLW vice-champions as the hosts lead 8:4 a little over 15 minutes into the game forcing Györ coach Ambros Martin to call a time-out and have a quick chat with his players - mainly about their attacking performance so far.
Hatadou Sako (Metz) and Sandra Toft (Györ) shine in the beginning with a few saves each, however Metz take an early 4:2 lead in an amazing home-court atmosphere. Ana Gros, on the other hand, takes care of business for Györ offensively.
In Odense it is 5:5 after first ten minutes. Tuva Hove and Marketa Jerabkova score two each for Vipers while Rikke Iversen responds with three goals from just as many attempts.
Stages are all set in Metz and Odense which means everything is ready for the final two EHF Champions League Women clashes of the day!
What a way to welcome and boost your players' confidence ahead of an important EHF Champions League Women clash!
Not long until the start of the matches Odense Handbold - Vipers Kristianstad and Metz - Györ.
In the first one, reigning EHF Champions League Women title holders Vipers have a chance to book their quarter-final ticket with a win over Odense. History books work in their favor as well with the team from Kristianstad celebrating in four out of five matches they played against the Danish side so far.
Winners of the second match will, on the other hand, find themselves on the top of group B which says enough of the importance of this game. Metz will, in this one, look for what would be their 90th EHF Champions League Women victory having played 172 EHF CLW matches so far. Reigning EHF CLW vice-champions from Hungary will, however certainly have their say in that.
With the first match of the day behind us, it is time to take a quick look at the photo gallery from Podgorica. The first picture with Attingré and Skerovic appears to be the photo of the day so far as the two of them really paved the way for WHC Buducnost BEMAX versus Lokomotiva.
17:30 | FULLTIME
Unfortunately for coach Nenad Sostaric and his players, Buducnost proved to be a better opponent out there today in the end celebrating a comfortable 25:18 win. Ivana Godec finished the match with six goals while Jelena Vukcevic added five for Buducnost. Arnelle Attingré, however played a key role for her team in this one grabbing remarkable 15 saves. Klara Birtic, on the other side, netted four for Lokomotiva.
Here are the full-time stats as we are getting ready for Metz vs. Györ and Odense vs. Vipers to take over on this EHF CLW Saturday!
Lena Ivancok was definitely ready to answer the challenge from Arnelle Attingré and Andrea Skerovic in this one!
Lokomotiva Zagreb managed to find a way to strengthen their defense, not allowing Buducnost to widen the gap additionally. Lena Ivancok has also managed to grab a few more saves but combined 19 saves from Arnelle Attingré and Andrea Skerovic on the other hand, with five minutes left until the final buzzer, definitely stand out as one of the key reasons for what appears will end up being a dominant win for the Montenegrin side in the end.
Andrea Skerovic puts an end on Tena Japundža's impeccable seven-meter goal-scoring series but Lena Ivancok replies within a minute stopping Jelena Vukcevic from the line. Only a few seconds later, Nikolina Vukcevic widens the gap to 11 goals (22:11) from the counter-attack.
Second half commences and Lokomotiva Zagreb uses the first possession well as Tena Japundža scores from the seven-meter line. Her second goal of the night.
Arnelle Attingré is paving the way for her team in this one with incredible 13 saves in the first half alone!
16:40 | HALFTIME
Hosts have entered the match in the best possible way playing tough on the defensive side of the court with the additional help of Armelle Attingré who is having a day stopping 62% of shots heading her direction. Ivana Godec finished the first half with five goals while Croatian-born Matea Pletikosic added three with some really nice assists. Klara Birtic and Lara Buric, on the other side, scored three each for Lokomotiva which is struggling to keep up with Buducnost' pace in this one.
As the teams head to their respective locker rooms, it is time we have a quick look at the half-time statistics.
Milena Raicevic does it all by herself early into the match. Decide for yourself what's better - her speeding past all the defenders or that ice-cold finish.
Ivana Godec shines early with five goals from just as much attempts as Buducnost widens the gap to five (10:5) with a little less than 15 minutes left to play until the half-time whistle. Attingré keeps up the good pace as well stopping Ana Malec from the seven-meter line.
Armelle Attingré starts the match off the right way with four saves for Buducnost as the Montengrin team takes an early 4:1 lead.
Eventual win or even a draw versus Lokomotiva Zagreb would help WHC Buducnost BEMAX secure a spot in the knock-out stage of the competition as they are already six points ahead of seventh-placed Turkish Kastamonu. On the other hand, loss would put an end to Lokomotiva's hopes of reaching the next stage. Before the game starts, check out the standings in group B. Keep in mind the match between Metz and Györ is scheduled for 18.00 CET today!
Opening the day today are WHC Buducnost BEMAX and Lokomotiva Zagreb. In round 3 of this season's EHF Champions League Women, Montenegrin team managed to secure a narrow 24:25 win away from home and it is clear they will be looking to add a new win to their overall score for the season today. Lokomotiva Zagreb coach Nenad Sostaric, however believes in his team and wants it to build on that first EHF CLW point they managed to secure two weeks ago in their home clash against Kastamonu.
The match in Podgorica is just another one in which we want to prove both ourselves and others that we are growing as a team and are no longer impressed by rivals and big handball names. Or goal is to prove that we're capable of delivering a good performance away from home - focus will, of course, be on our defensive display in this one but we'll do our best to improve offensively as well, add an additional level to our game. Playing against such a team, you have to find a way to deliver the best, maximize your physical and mental abilities.
We have three matches scheduled for Saturday - WHC Buducnost BEMAX and Lokomotiva will start us off from 16.00 CET in a match in which Buducnost will be looking to capitalize on their away win against Croatian champions earlier this season. Lokomotiva will, on the other hand, certainly look to repeat the quality performance they were able to deliver in Zagreb against the Montenegrin side and secure their first away-from-home points in this season's EHF Champions League Women. Later on, Odense Handbold will welcome reigning EHF CLW champions Vipers Kristianstad and Metz Handball will, in derby of the top in group B face-off versus Györi Audi ETO KC.
Saturday is reserved for the round 12 MOTW in which German SG BBM Bietigheim will welcome CSM Bucuresti. Other than that we will also see Brest Bretagne host Ferencvaros, Krim Mercator Ljubljana against DHB Banik Most, Rapid Bucuresti versus Kastamonu, as well as the duel between Storhamar and Team Esbjerg.
We have, once again, prepared everything you need to know about all the clashes in our round 12 preview so feel free to check it out!