Vipers finish group phase with crucial win over Brest
Vipers Kristiansand finished the group phase of this season's EHF Champions League Women on a high with a 36:29 win over Brest Bretagne Handball, their fifth in a row in the competition.
The reigning champions are now provisionally in the lead of group A, while Brest cannot finish higher than fifth place – but they can fall to sixth place.
- the pivotal moment of the game was a 5:0 run from Vipers between the 36th and 40th minutes, when Brest's attack was stopped in its tracks
- the comeback was also spurred by an excellent second half from Vipers’ goalkeeper Katrine Lunde, who finished with 15 saves and a 37.5 per cent save efficiency, improving her overall tally this season to 146 saves
- Vipers earned their 50th win in the EHF Champions League Women, becoming only the 15th team to reach this milestone
- Vipers left back Markéta Jerábková, the reigning MVP of the EHF FINAL4, was on top form once again, scoring eight goals, as she improved her overall tally this season to 95 goals
- the reigning champions have leapfrogged CSM Bucuresti and are provisionally in the lead, but the Romanian side can retake first place and win the group if they beat Krim Mercator Ljubljana on Sunday
Vipers use second half burst to seal win
For 35 minutes, Brest Bretagne were able to stay close and even take the lead against Vipers Kristiansand, but the reigning champions had superior depth and an outstanding back line, with their starters – Markéta Jerábková, Jamina Roberts and Anna Vyakhireva – combining for 18 goals.
It was a fitting finish for Vipers, whose outstanding form this season has seen them only lose two games – both away against SG BBM Bietigheim and CSM Bucuresti. If CSM do not win on Sunday against Krim, the Norwegian powerhouse will win the group.
On the other hand, Brest had already qualified for the play-offs, but they simply could not win in a high-octane game against Vipers, who have the best attack in Europe's premier competition. The French side will either finish in fifth or sixth place, depending on the group’s last games on Sunday.
Photos ©Olivier Stephan
I'm proud of my players – they played well. We wanted to win to be able to be number one in the group. We won against a strong team, and we will see what happens tomorrow.
The key to the game was our depth. We have a very strong team. No matter who is on the field, we play well. I wanted to have fun today and I did. Our ability to play fast and run allowed us to make the difference. It is one of our strengths, as well as the ability to make the right decisions at the right time.