EHF European League Women group phase line-up complete
After HC Lokomotiva Zagreb secured their EHF European League Women group phase ticket last week, 11 other teams booked theirs in the second legs this weekend. The 12 teams join Nykøbing Falster Håndbold, Thüringer HC, CS Gloria 2018 BN and Motherson Mosonmagyarovari KC in the group phase.
Among the confrontations played over the weekend, no club managed to turn over the first-leg result. Spanish side Super Amara Bera Bera was probably the closest to such a comeback, but they fell one goal short against Sola. But there was consolation for Spanish fans, as Costa del Sol Malaga delivered one of the performances of the weekend by booking their ticket away in Copenhagen.
MKS FunFloor Lublin, Storhamar Handball Elite and HSG Bensheim/Auerbach all booked their group phase berths as well after winning the first legs with a big advantage last week.
- Lokomotiva Zagreb were the only team already qualified prior to this weekend, thanks to their win against Brühl (53:43 on aggregate)
- after finishing third at the EHF Finals 2023, Dortmund were eliminated after conceding their second loss against Braila (22:27)
- 2021 European League winners Neptunes Nantes booked their ticket after inflicting Molde a second defeat (30:24)
- right wing Magda Balsam delivered the performance of the day, scoring 12 out of 12 shots to power Lublin to a 44:24 win against ZORK Jagodina
- Malaga booked their ticket away from home in Copenhagen, after the 29:29 draw in Spain last week, thanks to a stellar performance by Silvia Arderius Martin (12 goals)
- the draw for the European League Women 2023/24 group phase will take place at 11:00 CET on Thursday 23 November, live on YouTube
Kastamonu Belediyesi GSK (TUR) vs Praktiker-Vác (HUN) 32:33 (14:16)
(Praktiker-Vác win 70:53 on aggregate)
Váci were practically out of trouble after their 16-goal win in the first leg, and the Hungarian side put the cherry on the cake by winning the return leg in Kastamonu. After scoring six in the first game, Csenge Kuczora was elemental again for her team, netting 10 times, including the last two penalty goals to secure the win. Kastamonu had come back in the second half and led by two goals with six minutes remaining, but Váci soon equalised and Kuczora made sure of the victory and progression to the next round.
DHK Banik Most (SVK) vs Chambray Touraine HB (FRA) 27:27 (14:13)
(Chambray Touraine HB win 60:47 on aggregate)
After winning the first leg by 13 goals, Chambray secured their group phase ticket by drawing in Slovakia. While Most took a maximum advantage of three goals in the first half (13:10), when Natalie scored the third of her six goals of the evening, Chambray never let their opponents cruise away on the scoreboard. Powered by Nadia Mielke-Offendal, who netted five times, the visitors quickly came back within the game and even took a four-goals lead with the end in sight. But thanks to a last-second equaliser by Tereza Eksteinova, Banik finally got the draw in front of their fans.
Super Amara Bera Bera (ESP) vs Sola HK (NOR) 34:28 (15:12)
(Sola HK win 67:66 on aggregate)
Sola will be in the EHF European League group phase again this season, but their qualification came down to a single goal. Despite being down by seven on aggregate at the start of the game, Bera Bera gave it everything they got. Led by Mariane Cristina Oliveira Fernandes, who netted eight today, the Spanish side gradually increased their advantage on the scoreboard. Leading by three goals at the break, by four with 10 minutes left to play and six with two minutes left to play, Bera Bera almost made it. But Rikke Marie Granlund was key for Sola, stopping two seven-metre throws in the last minute to help Sola progress to the group phase.
HC Podravka Vegeta (CRO) vs SPONO Eagles (SUI) 32:26 (20:11)
(HC Podravka Vegeta win 58:43 on aggregate)
In Koprivnica, Croatian side Podravka Vegeta won the double-header against SPONO Eagles in style. Thanks to Tina Barisic scoring seven and Lucija Besen making 16 saves at a 51.6 per cent efficiency rate, Podravka cruised away in the first leg to win by nine goals (26:17). Sunday’s game proved to be a much more offensive affair, with the hosts netting 20 in the first half alone. Down by nine at the break (11:20), SPONO Eagles did their best to show a good face, with Nuria Bucher netting nine, but their opponents proved to be definitely deserving of their qualification.
The girls who did not play yesterday and who normally have less playing time played. They were excellent defensively and offensively, with a lot of thinking and concentration. That's how we opened the first minutes of the second half, and then there was a drop in concentration. That made me a little angry, and if you're a coach, you have to be angry.
We felt the strength of Podravka and we wish them the best in the group phase. They belong there. We have a very young team, we have players who want to achieve at this level. I expected them to fight and to give their best and if we look at these two matches, we can learn a lot from this and take a lot with us to our league in Switzerland.
HC Dunarea Braila (ROU) vs BV Borussia 09 Dortmund (GER) 27:22 (13:9)
(Braila win 52:46 on aggregate)
After they reached the EHF Finals Women in 2022/23, Dortmund are out of the EHF European League this season after losing 22:27 to Dunarea Braila. Winning by one in Germany last week gave the Romanian team confidence, and on Sunday, they were able to take the lead from the start and to never let it go. With Kira Trusova delivering a stunning performance behind the posts (18 saves, 54 per cent efficiency), the hosts took a four-goal advantage before the break before increasing it in the second half to secure qualification.
We already struggled in attack in the first half. Nine goals is simply not enough. We were within two goals at one point, but we made easy mistakes in attack. That also led to Braila scoring twice in a seven-on-six game. That decided the game.
H 65 Höörs HK (SWE) vs Storhamar Handball Elite (NOR) 32:36 (15:20)
(Storhamar win 73:60 on aggregate)
A nine-goal win in the first leg is a good way to boost confidence in a two-legged confrontation. And Storhamar proved exactly that on Sunday, in the return game in Eslöv. With Guro Nestaker scoring eight to finish as the best scorer of the game, the Norwegian side was already ahead by six with 10 minutes played. And Storhamar’s offence was enough for the visitors to keep the lead, despite Emma Jönsson and Emma Nuhanovic both scoring six for the hosts – not enough to prevent Storhamar from securing the third group phase qualification in their history.
Vfl Oldenburg (GER) vs HSG Bensheim/Auerbach (GER) 25:28 (12:17)
(Bensheim/Auerbach win 55:44 on aggregate)
In the only national derby in qualification round 3, Bensheim/Auerbach confirmed their win from the first leg to book their ticket to the group phase. On Sunday, the visitors made sure they were away from danger early, as they made the most of their opponents’ turnovers to take an early six-goal lead. Bensheim/Auerbach did not take their foot off the pedal at any time, with Lisa Friedberger scoring six goals overall to lead her team to their first ever group phase participation.
Molde Elite (NOR) vs Neptunes Nantes (FRA) 24:30 (11:14)
(Neptunes Nantes win 75:52 on aggregate)
The winners of the EHF European League Women 2020/21, Neptunes Nantes, will again form part of the group phase this season. Entering the court in Molde backed with a 17-goal win in the first leg, Helle Thomsen’s women proved their superiority once again. A stretch of 13 minutes without conceding a single goal before the break was enough for a three-goal lead that they made the most of in the second half. With Tamara Horacek at the wheel, scoring seven, the French side increased its advantage to six goals at the final buzzer. Markéta Šustácková netted six times for Molde.
CSM Targu Jiu (ROU) vs Önnereds HK (SWE) 26:23 (15:8)
(Targu Jiu win 55:50 on aggregate)
The weekend was a perfect one for Targu Jiu, as the Romanian side managed to win twice to book their ticket for the group phase. The first game against Önnereds was a close one, but the second match was a much easier affair for the hosts. While, in the first leg, they did not manage to keep their five-goal advantage, Targu Jiu put the match to bed early in the second game. Thanks to a strong defence and an impressive Ekaterina Dzhukeva between the posts (11 saves at a 38 per cent efficiency rate), the Romanian side broke away early on the scoreboard, never to be caught again.
MKS FunFloor Lublin (POL) vs ZORK Jagodina (SRB) 44:24 (24:12)
(MKS FunFloor Lublin win 80:44 on aggregate)
Lublin’s qualification for the group phase was never in doubt. After winning the first leg away by 16 goals, the Polish side did not show any mercy to their opponents on Sunday. With Magda Balsam delivering an almost perfect game, with 12 goals out of 12 shots, the Polish club powered through the game to score 24 goals in the first half. And as if this was not enough, Paulina Wdowiak entered the court between the posts at the break, stopping seven at a 58 per cent efficiency rate to definitely seal the deal in favour of Lublin.
Kobenhavn Handbold (DEN) vs Costa del Sol Malaga (ESP) 20:25 (8:14)
(Malaga win 54:49 on aggregate)
After the two teams drew in the first leg in Spain, everything was still open between Kobenhavn and Malaga. And the Spanish side created the sensation of the weekend, winning by five away to secure their presence in the European League group phase for the first time ever. Silvia Arderius Martin played a huge role for the visitors, scoring 12 goals overall. In her wake, Malaga were already up by five after 10 minutes played. Kobenhavn were unable to react and trailed by eight goals at the 33rd minute, enough for Malaga to calm things down and slow the pace on their way to victory and qualification.
Main photo © Molde Elite