Krim’s immense comeback against CSM secures play-offs berth
Krim Mercator Ljubljana left what was best until the last game of the group phase, delivering a huge performance against former group leaders CSM Bucuresti to take a 28:26 win, jumping to fifth place in the final group standings and securing a play-offs berth.
CSM, who led the group for the last six rounds, was leapfrogged by reigning champions Vipers Kristiansand, but still make it to the quarter-finals where they will face the winner between Team Esbjerg and Brest Bretagne Handball.
Krim Mercator Ljubljana (SLO) vs CSM Bucuresti (ROU) 28:26 (13:14)
-the Slovenian side, which started the round on the seventh place, tied Brest Bretagne Handball and SG BBM Bietigheim at points and leapfrogged the two sides, due to their excellent performance against them in a three-way tie, taking six out of the eight possible points
-the Romanian side boasted only a meagre 48% attacking efficiency, with plenty of misses and a 29% saving efficiency from their three goalkeepers, as they finished on the second place, being leapfrogged by Vipers Kristiansand
-CSM’s left back Cristina Neagu finished the game with six goals out of 15 shots, ending the group phase on the second place in the top goal scorer standings, with 105 goals, two goals shy of the leader, Esbjerg’s Henny Reistad
-only six players scored for Krim, but backs Tjasa Stanko and Barbara Lazovic and wings Jovanka Radicevic and Sanja Radosavljevic combined for 25 of the Slovenian side’s 28 goals
-after seven consecutive seasons in which they failed to progress from their group to the knockout phase, Krim have now made it for three consecutive seasons and will face another Romanian side, CS Rapid Bucuresti, in the play-offs, in their 299th and 300th matches in the European premium competition
Krim deliver, but CSM look in serious trouble
The first piece of the domino for Krim Mercator Ljubljana to make it to the play-offs this season fell on Saturday evening, when Vipers Kristiansand secured an important win against Brest Bretagne Handball, which meant Krim’s win against CSM would have been exactly what was needed for the Slovenian team to progress.
It was not easy, but Krim got meaningful contributions from their most experienced players, despite their second top scorer in this season, Daria Dmitrieva, having an off afternoon, with only one goal from seven shots. Yet Krim’s grit covered that, with Jovanka Radicevic and Barbara Lazovic, two former CSM players, combining for 12 goals.
On the other hand, CSM look in serious trouble right now, as their excellent form has dwindled. The Romanian powerhouse is still in the quarter-finals, but will face the winner between Team Esbjerg and Brest, surely reminding themselves that they did not make it out last season from their quarter-final tie against the Danish side, which took a 53:52 aggregate win.
Regarding my team, I am very proud of my players – how they reacted to this tough match because it was about surviving for us. I think we can build on this for the next match against Rapid. I am very proud that we succeeded and thank all the fans that were in the hall today.
For them it was the game to survive and make the playoffs. They are very good and very strong in those kinds of games. Margins are those that make games difficult. For us it is next to get as much energy as we can...We need to be on a higher level in everything we do. Today we were not at our top level.