In the match-up of the group D leaders, powerhouse Oltchim, thanks to their fighting spirit, took the two points from Itxako Navarra in Spain (final score 22-25) and are on the way to the top 8, eurohandball.com informs.
It was the expected highly tense and marvelous battle between two different handball cultures, with the home side making the better start. The Romanians seemed to lack concentration at the beginning and Itxako, with their fascinating dirigent Macarena Aguilar, used every opportunity to score. Radu Voina´s team woke up in time and his side got used to the unlucky Itxako attacks that either ended-up on the woodwork or straight at Oltchim goalkeeper Talida Tolnai. In this phase Itxako could have led by a comfortable 3-5 goals, but instead, the second half promised a tight game.
With the entry of Patritia Vizitiu coach Voina brought some fresh wind to the Romanian attacks and Turkish international Yeliz Özel also showed her great qualities. After 40 minutes the away side leveled to 15:15 and was back in the game. Individual mistakes happened on Itxako´s side, whilst the Romanians gained much confidence. After taking the lead in the 46th minute, Voina´s team moved into top gear and crushed Itxako. Despite a time out by coach Ambros Martín, the entry of injured Begoña Fernández and an aggressive 4 to 2 defence, the home side wasn’t able to stop Özel and her colleagues from delivering their best performance of the season so far, and becoming the favourite to win the group.