Team Esbjerg take option for EHF FINAL4
Team Esbjerg are closer to a return to the EHF FINAL4, after a scintillating performance in the second half against CSM Bucuresti. They clinched a crucial 32:28 win against the Romanian side, but will lament the big chance missed, after leading by as many as seven goals.
QUARTER FINALS, FIRST LEG
Team Esbjerg (DEN) vs CSM Bucuresti (ROU) 32:28 (17:13)
- like last season, when Esbjerg eliminated CSM Bucuresti in the semi-finals, the Danish side took a win in the first leg, with the game turning thanks to an unanswered 3:0 run between the 12th and the 17th minutes
- former CSM right back, Nora Mørk was Esbjerg’s top scorer in the game, putting eight goals past her former side, while CSM’s backs, Emily Arntzen and Cristina Neagu combined for 17 goals
- star left back, Cristina Neagu needed only six minutes to become the second-best scorer in EHF Champions League Women history with her second goal in the game; CSM’s captain leapfroged former Györ centre back, Anita Görbicz, who had a 1016-goal tally
- this season, Team Esbjerg have not lost by more than two goals with all of their three losses coming by either one or two goals, a result which would see the Danish side sail through to the EHF FINAL4 in Budapest
- CSM have a mountain to climb to deliver their first EHF FINAL4 berth since the 2017/18 season, in the second leg which is already sold out in Bucharest, where the Romanian side is undefeated this season
CSM fail to get going at crucial moment
CSM’s four-year drought for a place in the EHF FINAL4 in Budapest might be extended for one more season, after a disappointing outing in the first leg of the quarter-final against Team Esbjerg. The Esbjerg - CSM quarterfinal was seen as one of the most balanced, if not the most balanced doubleheaders in this phase of the competition.
Esbjerg led by as many six goals, as CSM faced a stiff challenge on both sides of the ball. Their attack produced a meagre 43% efficiency, while their defence conceded the largest number of goals this season.
Credit goes to Esbjerg, which devised an excellent plan and dictated the tempo, playing to their strengths. They now have edged closer to eliminating CSM in the quarter-finals for the second season in a row, but a fiery second leg is still to be played next Sunday in Bucharest. Thanks to Laura Glauser’s saves, as she stopped seven shots for a 43.7% efficiency, CSM cut the gap and are still in the race.
Team Esbjerg is a good team and I know it will be difficult to beat them by five goals, but we will not stop believing.
We are satisfied with the performance and it was a tough fight between two gladiators in the arena. And, I can't say if I am satisfied with the result now, but ask me again after the match on Sunday.