Györi Audi ETO KC beat Buducnost in the first semi-final of the TIPPMIX EHF FINAL4 to claim a place in their second consecutive final. Kari Aalvik Grimsbø and the massive Györ defence made the difference as the 2015 winners were outplayed in the sold-out Papp László Budapest Sportarena.
TIPPMIX EHF FINAL4 Semi-final 1:
Buducnost (MNE) vs Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) 20:26 (9:12)
The clash of the two European heavyweights is already a FINAL4 classic but this year some extra spice was added to the rivalry as the semi-final was the penultimate game for a number of Buducnost’s title winning team’s key members.
After the breathtaking opening ceremony the 12,000 strong crowd’s noise exploded the jam-packed Papp László Budapest Sportaréna as the two teams were introduced. The rematch of last year’s semi-final started in the best possible atmosphere.
Not so much different
Players from both teams claimed this season’s match was going to be very different from last year’s defence dominated, aggressive clash (21:20 to Györ) but the first minutes proved them wrong. Both defences were solid in the opening minutes as Eduarda Amorim put Györ ahead, but Cristina Neagu found the way past Kari Aalvik Grimsbø, who started with a string of nice saves.
In the heat of the tense battle Yvette Broch had to be taken off due to a bloody scar but just a minute later it was the Dutch line player’s goal that extended Györ’s lead to three goals for the first time. Buducnost struggled in front the massive Györ wall and even though the Hungarian side had three two-minute suspensions in the first 22 minutes they remained up front even after Katarina Bulatovic joined Neagu on the scoresheet.
A key battle
Ambros Martín took Zsuzsanna Tomori out of her usual defensive position to meet Neagu and although the Hungarian right back did a good job on the Romanian superstar she was sent off twice in the first half. In the meantime Anita Görbicz showed her class by scoring some trademark goals from the wing to keep Györ in the driver’s seat.
The Montenegrin champions’ 30 per cent attack efficiency in the first half spoke volumes about how aggressive Györ’s defence was but when the Hungarian team finally enjoyed a power play situation in the last two minutes Buducnost showed strength and even crawled back.
The Hungarian side’s three-goal lead at half-time was by no means decisive, however, the fact that only Neagu and Bulatovic found the back of the net from the Montenegrin side was alarming for Dragan Adzic.
”Györ was better today, even better than in the previous FINAL4 in 2016. We could not find a way to play better on both sides. We wanted to finish this season with a win as this is going to be the last for this squad,” ”Győr was better today, even better than in the previous FINAL4 in 2016. We could not find a way to play better on both sides. We wanted to finish this season with a win as this is going to be the last for this squad.”
Györ put one foot in the final
Ambros Martín’s team started the second half brightly, Görbicz remained unstoppable, Grimsbø maintained her cca 40 per cent save percentage and Adzic was forced to take his second time-out five minutes into the second half.
40 minutes had passed before Djurdjina Jaukovic became the third Buducnost player to find a way past the outstanding Grimsbø, who thoroughly outshone Darly Zoqbi De Paula. On top of the Norwegian goalkeeper’s splendid performance Györ’s defence worked well and fifteen minutes from the final whistle the Hungarian team had the game under full control.
"We have played very well, this is the way to win the FINAL4. Our defence and our goalkeeper were fantastic. We do not care about the other
semi-final, we just focus on ourselves and I believe, our hard work will pay off," said Györ's stalwart Görbicz.
Unstoppable Györ reach the final
Tomori saw red for the third 2-minute suspension but Görbicz kept her nerve from the penalty line and Györ did not let the Podgorica outfit crawl dangerously close. There were plenty of teammates to make up for Nora Mørk’s lack of goals, as apart from Görbicz and Amorim, Nycke Groot and Yvette Broch finished their chances calmly.
Buducnost’s efficiency remained low and the last minutes offered no drama as the Hungarian outfit comfortably cruised in to win and deservedly claim their place in the final for the second consecutive time.
"Everything happened as it was planned. On both sides of the court, our squad accomplished what I have asked before the game. Now, we need to move on and focus on the final," Györ coach Ambros Martín said.Author: Bence Mártha / br
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