Two thrillers and one home victory
Nothing is decided yet in three Men’s European Cup competitions below the VELUX EHF Champions League: All three first leg games of the finals were close with each one home and away victory and a draw.
Cup Winners’ Cup:
VfL Gummersbach (GER) vs. SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) 33:34 (17:16)
Second leg: Friday, 25 May, 18:45 hrs local time
Defending champions VfL Gummersbach unluckily lost the first leg of the final, as SG Flensburg-Handewitt is highly close to their first title since 2005 thanks to this victory.
Flensburg-Handewitt was clearly dominant in the first 15 minutes and led 12:7, before a time-out of VfL coach Emir Kurtagic stooped the downswing. Thanks to the saves of goalkeeper Aljoscha Rezar and the goal of right back Adrian Pfahl the defending champions started their catch-up chase, equalized at 15:15 and were in lead 17:15 at the break.
The second half was absolutely equal with no team in lead with a bigger difference than two goals. Both goalkeepers – Rezar and Mattias Andersson - saved superb, Flensburg could count on the goals of their Danish wings Anders Eggert and Lasse Svan Hansen, whilst Gummersbachs pivot Patrick Wienczek scored in a great manner. In the final stage the youngsters took the responsibility: Kentin Mahe and Wiencek for Gummersbach and Petar Djordjic for Flensburg.
Lucky Northern Germans in the end took the victory after a thriller thanks to the final goal of Hansen. The last Gummersbach shot was blocked.
Dunkerque Grand Litoral HB (FRA) vs. Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER) 26:26 (13:15)
Second leg: Thursday, 24 May, 19:00 hrs local time
After a real thriller Frisch Auf Göppingen can hope to defend their title in the EHF Cup. But the Germans have to be aware of the away strength of the French team, which had won the semi-final at Magdeburg.
The host missed Sebatian Bosquet, whilst Göppingen had to replace Dragos Oprea and Michael Haaß. The atmospheres in Dunkerque was great with a loud support of the home fans. But Göppingen was not impressed, but led at the break with a two goal margin. The game was on eye level in the second with constantly changing leads like the 21:19 in minute 45 for Dunkerque or the 26:25 for Göppingen right before the end. As Frisch Auf Serbian Momir Rnic missed a penalty shot in the final minute, Dunkerque was able to equalized to the final result. Top scorers were Nagy (six goals for the French team) and Rnic (7). The re-match on Thursday is already sold-out.
EHF Challenge Cup
Diomidis Argous (GRE) vs. Wacker Thun (SUI) 26:23 (13:8)
Second leg: Monday 28 May, 17:00 hrs local time
Only two days after their 26:30 defeat in the first final of the Swiss championship against Kadetten Schaffhausen, Wacker Thun was defeated again – and the Greek team Diomidis Argous can dream for the first ever European Cup trophy for their country. The host was in lead nearly all the time and took a well-deserved victory.
After an equal start Argous extended the gap right before the break to six goals for the one and only time at 13:7. Thanks to six straight goals Wacker equalized but did not manage to turn the game completely. Ten minutes before the end Diomidis were away with three goals again at 20:17 – and kept this distance until the final buzzer.
TEXT: Björn Pazen