Rapid close group phase with a win
Rapid Bucuresti closed their group B performance by securing their ninth win of the season after beating Lokomotiva 27:22. The depleted Romanian side was in front throughout the whole match but Lokomotiva produced their best performance of the season, keeping the contest close until the final whistle. With Rapid already having a clinched place to the play-offs in fourth place and Lokomotiva being the bottom club, the two sides could only fight for their honour to end the group phase on a high.
CS Rapid Bucuresti (ROU) vs HC Lokomotiva Zagreb 27:22 (15:12)
- with only 10 court players and three goalkeepers, Rapid made a strong intro to the game, setting a 5:1 lead with an outstanding performance by Diana Ciuca at the goal
- Rapid's biggest advantage in the first half was by six, but a tough defensive display and Tena Petika's three consecutive goals reduced Lokomotiva's deficit to 9:12
- in the opening minutes of the second half, Lena Ivancok had a series of saves pushing her side to a new goal run with Kristina Dramac and Tena Petika securing an equaliser (17:17)
- Lokomotiva could not keep the same level as Rapid went on a 3-0 run, courtesy of Orlane Kanor, and sealed the deal on a win
- Orlane Kanor shone for Rapid Bucuresti with nine goals, while Tena Petika added seven on the Croatian side
Lokomotiva end season with a good performance
It seems Rapid Bucuresti's style of play works well for Lokomotiva too. The Croatian side is the youngest team of the EHF Champions League Women 2022/23 season and have been struggling against the best teams of Group B. In eight out of 14 matches Zagreb-based club had fewer than 20 goals, making them the least efficient team in the whole competition.
However, Nenad Sostaric's players' two best games of the season were against Rapid Bucuresti. In the first match, Lokomotiva scored 27 in a 27:31 defeat after almost a 'copy/paste' of today's first half. Even though the round 14 match ended with a lower number of goals than usual, Lokomotiva did not let go easily and kept the contest close for 45 minutes against the sixth most efficient attack of the league.
Lokomotiva also had a draw against Kastamonu Belediyesi, celebrating their first point of the season. With the curtain falling on their Champions League season, the young Croatian talents gathered new valuable experience in Europe's top flight, now with a focus on the Croatian championship.
Ah, I think that for us it's incredible to have scored 20 points in the group stage, I think there's an incredible evolution in the team, and it's included with all the problems we've had, which I don't want to remember, but it's obvious that we have five or six players injured and aren't playing...I hope that in the next few weeks we can recover players, I am sure that when we recover players the team will be more competitive and prepare very well for everything that is coming.
I think that we played a good game especially if you know that for 40 minutes we play without our best player. She still has some muscle problems so she didn't play and basically all the players that you have seen on the court are the players born from 2003 to 2001, so we are children in this competition... I enjoyed being here today. I enjoyed it because of the spectators and I think that, after 40 years of working in handball, for me this was the best audience that I've ever seen.