The girls in green did it again. After a great display in defense, the conducted by Ambros Martín defeated CSM București 20-26 in the first semifinal of the EHF Final 4. In a packed Pap Laszlo Sportarena, the Hungarians won against a team that lacked fighting spirit.
Győr started off the match with much more focus than their rivals, both in attack and in defense. With an outstanding Eduarda Amorim and Kari Grimsbø. The defending champions paved their path to the final against a Romanian squad that looked lost at times. The coached by Per Johansson had to wait 10 minutes until they scored for the first time in the match, through Cristina Neagu. Things improved for the 2015/16 champions by the end of the first period, which they managed to close with a 2 goal deficit (10-12).
Everything was working fine for the Hungarian side, who relied on their experienced backs and an enormous. Amorim, Oftedal and Groot were taking care of the attacks and feeding both line players and wings. Nearly 10’ into the second half, Amanda Kurtovic, who had a good game, scored the equalizer (16-16). CSM had the ball to take the lead for the first time, but miscommunications and a troublesome attack saw Győr taking the lead again. A lead that would only grow until the end of the 60 minutes.
The poor attack from CSM could not even be fully explained by Per Johansson, who stated: “when we respect the system we have decided, we score. We felt OK with 2 down on the break, but the problem Is that I don’t know why we’re not running the fastbreaks. In the end we played too much individually, but for example when Bella, Cristina and Amanda play together without so much bounce, we score, but you’ve seen it yourselves. And over 60’ this is not good enough. Then we were 16-16 and we had the ball, and we should’ve come with confidence, but also in that period Grimsbø made three or four really good saves. After that, we didn’t create any chances and that’s because we are leaving the system too early. We did good things, but then we get stressed when we miss, so we go back to the old habits”.
Amorim, one of the best players on court today, had said yesterday that if Neagu had a bad day, she could still score six goals (she scored six goals today), and that one of the keys for today’s match was to stop her, to make her uncomfortable. Well, hard work paid off. “That’s exactly what we wanted to do. Neagu is the head of that team, and if she’s not having a good day, the rest of the team finds it hard to have a good day as well, because their game is very individual; and this season, they didn’t manage to play collectively. But we did, especially in defense, but also in attack, our goalkeeper was great today so that helped a lot”.
Győr could make history tomorrow and successfully defend the EHF Final 4 title for the first time (they’ve already defended the title on the first Final 4, but the previous title was with the old definition system), and the powerful left back knows the team is ready to face this new final: “We’re very determined. Now we need to relax a little and try to change the ‘chip’ as fast as possible. After such an important victory, is normal for the athlete to relax, but we have to be ready and focused for tomorrow”.
The defending champions have reached their 4th EHF Final 4 final in the same amount of appearances.