27 Mar. 2023
Four teams made it through to the quarter-finals of the EHF Champions League Women after the play-offs phase of the competition was completed over the last two weekends, with a big surprise delivered by Romanian champions CS Rapid Bucuresti.
In their first season in the European premium competition, Rapid extended their outstanding home streak, in which they had previously won six matches and drew another, to turn back the tables and deliver a mouth-watering comeback against Krim Mercator Ljubljana.
Krim, which sealed a 29:24 win in the first leg, the first European match for Rapid’s new coach Kim Rasmussen, went into the second match as big favourites, celebrating their 300th match in history in the EHF Champions League Women.
However, the MVP of the 2019 IHF Women’s World Championship, Estavana Polman, and big Romanian talent Sorina Grozav combined for 14 goals to lift Rapid to a 30:24 win, which helped the Romanian champions seal a 54:53 aggregate win which saw them celebrate a quarter-final berth.
Grozav, who is in her debut season in the EHF Champions League Women, was nothing short of outstanding, delivering a clutch performance and scoring the last four goals of her side as Rapid led by seven goals, only to see their lead diminish to three goals.
In the end, the Romanian side clinched a six-goal win, enough to set up a crunch clash against reigning champions Vipers Kristiansand in the quarter-finals, as Vipers are eyeing a hat-trick of wins in the competition.
Elsewhere, FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria returned to the quarter-finals of the EHF Champions League Women for the first time since the 2018/19 season, with a 55:46 aggregate win over Buducnost, an excellent performance for a team which struggled to build any type of form this season. The Hungarian side will meet Metz Handball, the team which dominated their opponents in the group phase, eyeing a second consecutive berth for the EHF FINAL4.
Team Esbjerg set up a rematch of the quarter-final against CSM Bucuresti from the previous season with a clear 55:49 win over Brest Bretagne Handball, with 14 goals over the doubleheader scored by Henny Reistad, who leads the top goal scorer standings this season, with 121 goals, 15 more than CSM’s left back Cristina Neagu and 21 more than FTC’s Katrin Klujber.
Last but not least, Odense Håndbold sealed a 60:52 aggregate win over Storhamar Handball Elite to tie their best-ever performance in the competition, the quarter-finals berth sealed in the 2018/19 season at their debut.
Five countries – Denmark, Hungary and Romania with two teams each, Norway and France with one team each – are represented in the quarter-finals, the lowest number in history at this stage of the competition.
The quarter-finals will be played in a doubleheader on 29 and 30 April, with the second leg scheduled one week later, as the winners will head to the EHF FINAL4, set to be played in the MVM Dome in Budapest on 3 and 4 June.
Storhamar Håndball Elite (NOR) vs Odense Håndbold (DEN) 52:60 on aggregate
Brest Bretagne Handball (FRA) vs Team Esbjerg (DEN) 49:55 on aggregate
WHC Buducnost Bemax (MNE) vs FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) 46:55 on aggregate
Krim Mercator Ljubljana (SLO) vs Rapid Bucuresti (ROU) 53:54 on aggregate
Odense Håndbold (DEN) vs Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN)
Team Esbjerg (DEN) vs CSM Bucuresti (ROU)
FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs Metz Handball (FRA)
Rapid Bucuresti (ROU) vs Vipers Kristiansand (NOR)
Photo: Kasper Glintborg