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27.03.2016, 19:50
Lucky Flensburg book their quarter-final against Kielce
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LAST 16 REVIEW: The 2014 champions let a six-goal lead slip but hold on to edge Montpellier 31:30 and qualify for the next stage.
 

Lucky Flensburg book their quarter-final against Kielce

Any thought that the 28:27 win in the first-leg Last 16 match between these sides at Montpellier would provide a comfortable cushion for Flensburg was proved wrong on Sunday. Even a 20:14 half-time lead and therefore an aggregate seven-goal advantage was not enough to earn the hosts an easy-going second half.

But in the end, the 2014 VELUX EHF Champions League champions claimed a thrilling 31:30 win at home to make it to the quarter-final against Polish side KS Vive Tauron Kielce – Flensburg’s tenth qualification for a Champions League quarter-final in the club’s history.

Anders Eggert netted twelve goals including eight penalties for Flensburg, as Montpellier wing Dragan Gajic finished with the same tally. But Gajic’s efforts were not enough for his side, who also had to cope with a direct red card against Ludovic Fabregas in the second half.

“We had full control at the break and I don’t know what happened then,” said Eggert. “We tried to keep our speed up high, but we made too many mistakes while Montpellier improved in the goal and sped up. But finally we took a win, and that’s all that counts.”

VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16, Second Leg
SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs Montpellier Handball (FRA) 31:30 (20:14)
SG Flensburg-Handewitt win 59:57 on aggregate

After an impressive first half, the way to the quarter-finals seemed already paved by the 2014 VELUX EHF Champions winners. Left wing Eggert ran unstoppable counter attacks and was cold as ice from the penalty line, scoring seven times before the break while Holger Glandorf hammered in six in 30 minutes from the right back position.

Montpellier had big problems getting through the extremely active Flensburg defence and were down 14:20 at the break, also losing the goalkeeping duel against a reliably-strong Mattias Andersson. But Montpellier showed morale and fighting spirit in the initial stages of the second half, causing enormous problems for the hosts.

Flensburg-Montpellier_465.jpg

In his 300th match as Flensburg coach Ljubomir Vranjes needed to take an early time-out when Gajic returned from the break on fire. Scoring three of four consecutive Montpellier goals, the Slovenian right wing was key as the French team closed the gap, just as goalkeeper Arnaud Siffert was at the other end of the court.

For some minutes Flensburg managed to stop the downswing, maintaining a steady four-goal advantage before the match turned into a real thriller.

With six minutes to go, Montpellier had nearly caught Flensburg at 27:28. Fans in the sold-out arena tried everything to boost their team and it was Glandorf who netted to take the score to 29:27 before Andersson saved two important shots and Eggert completed another counter attack for 30:27.

Flensburg had clearly taken control again, and Montpellier coach Patrice Canayer responded with his time-out. Canayer replaced the goalkeeper with a seventh court player which turned out to be the correct measure. With Vid Kavticnik on court in the ‘goalkeeper jersey’, the French side struck twice and were back on track exactly one minute before the end of the match at 30:31.

But the one-goal lead was enough for the lucky hosts and Montpellier threw away their last chance to be eliminated in the Last 16, as they were in the 2014/15 season.

“The first half was really impressive, but then we were too nervous and made too many mistakes after the break against a really strong Montpellier defence,” said Vranjes, but: “We are in the quarter-finals, so we can celebrate.”

Flensburg will now prepare to face Polish champions Kielce in the quarter-final.

“We eagerly want to go to Cologne, so we have to put the pedal to the metal against Kielce,” concluded Glandorf.

Flensburg_Montpellier_465.jpg


TEXT: Bjorn Pazen / cg
 
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