Grubisic’s save – Rostov’s loss
March 31, 2016
Rostov-Don is still favorite to proceed to the FINAL4 despite a narrow defeat in Bucharest.
By Peter Bruun
Champions League (Women) – Quarter-Finals 1st Leg
CSM Bucuresti vs Rostov-Don 26:25 (11:12)
Before the Match
Rumors were swirling that Jakob Vestergaard would be on his way to Bucuresti, following his dismissal as head coach of Germany’s national handball team earlier in the week. Other hearsay was linking Isabell Gulldén to her former club IK Sävehof.
Fact was that CSM’s coach Kim Rasmussen could finally make use of fellow Dane, right-back Line Jørgensen again. While Rostov-Don´s Danish head coach, Jan Leslie, was in no immediate danger of being replaced, he could hardly escape the general opinion of Rostov being the sky-high favorite, even in the first leg. Leslie has often stated – as one of very few coaches – that he prefers to finish crucial games on the road; so maybe he was not even happy about starting the quarter-final in Bucuresti?!
Both teams were on their way to decide the match in their favor at different times over the course of the sixty minutes but a saved penalty courtesy of CSM´s Croatian goalkeeper Jelena Grubisic caused Rostov-Don a first defeat in the 2015/16 Champions League. The 26:25 win for the home team became fact, following a turbulent second half, in which CSM were leading by four goals, but got close at losing at all, while two goals down with eight minutes left on the clock.
Line Jørgensen´s timely comeback provided Rasmussen with more options in his back-court line and he made full use of it, changing his offense formation several times successfully.
In general, Bucuresti’s back-court players as well as right wings were victorious against Katrine Lunde, who had celebrated her 36-years birthday 24 hours before. Unfortunately, her performance during the first half hour of the match was not as memorable. Although they missed on two penalty attempts, her teammates were more successful at the other end of the court, managing to come back twice from a two-goal deficit (7:5 and 10:8), while taking a one-goal lead into half time.
The second half almost turned out to be a carbon copy of the first 30 minutes as neither team was able to get momentum going.
Rostov-Don got their first two goal lead at 15:13 five minutes into the half, but five unanswered CSM goals changed the score in favor of the hosts (19:16). In the minutes that followed, CSM even got up by four (22:18) and the club seemed to be well on the way to decide the matter. But now it was Rostov-Don´s turn to score a number of successive goals – six to be correct – turning the game around once again.
Still, the host was not done yet and with 28 seconds left, Swedish left-back Linnea Torstensson made it 26:25 for her team. It turned out to be the winning goal, courtesy of Grubisic´s penalty save seconds before the final whistle.
CSM coach Kim Rasmussen improved his team´s attacking play even further, when he started Linnea Torstensson at the beginning of the second half. The performance of the Swedish international was outstanding.
After the game, CSM´s Line Jørgensen wrapped it up perfectly, when she admitted: “It will still be extremely difficult in Russia!”
Rostov-Don is the obvious favorite to turn the table at home, as a one-goal Bucuresti lead does not represent an insurmountable advantage, to say the least.
However, the win has given CSM extra self-confidence and they have proven that Rostov-Don is not invincible.
One good piece of advice for Rostov-Don would be to train penalty shots ahead of the second leg next Saturday. They missed three shots from the 7-meter mark in Bucharest on Thursday evening – it could have made the difference.