Summary of the semi-finals’ first leg matches of the Men’s European Cup competitions
Celje, Diomidis, Flensburg and Dunkerque open the gates
Men’s European Cup competitions, semi-finals, first leg:
EHF Cup Winner’s Cup:
SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs. BM Arágon (ESP) 39:30 (19:13)
Two times EHF Champions league finalist SG Flensburg Handewitt made a huge step towards their next final. The team of coach Ljubomir Vranjes left the Spaniards from Zaragossa chanceless – and could even have won with a bigger distance than those final nine goals.
Match winner for the German was goalkeeper Matthias Andersson, who saved brilliant, top scorers were Tamas Mocsai (8 goals) and Petar Djordjic (7) for SG Flensburg-Handewitt and Antonia Carton with nine goals for Aragon. The Spaniards had the better start and led until the score of 9:8 in minute 16. Then Flensburg turned the page rapidly and pre-decided the first semi until the break and a six goal distance or latest at 29:18 in minute 43, when the distance had risen to eleven goals for the first time. The rest was result cosmetics for the team from Aragon, which need a little miracle next Saturday on home to reach a European Cup final for the second time after 2007.
Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO) vs. VfL Gummersbach (GER) 34:27 (21:13)
Thanks to this victory a rematch of the 2004 EHF Champions League final of late-on winner RK Celje vs. Flensburg is in reach. Celje was dominant throughout the whole 60 minutes against the defending champions after extending the lead easily from 9:7 to 14:8 in only five minutes. In minute 25 the distance were already eight goals, right after the break the score was 25:14, before the Germans were able to avoid a complete disaster, but still need a miracle to proceed to their fourth consecutive EC final.
Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) vs. Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER) 33:32 (15:13)
Everything is open after the first leg of the all-German semi-final duel. The match was on top level with two equal opponents – Rhein Neckar Löwen took a lucky victory in the end. “To secure the final we have to improve our defence in the second leg on Friday,” Löwen coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson said. “We have a quite good base, but still 60 minutes are ahead and nothing is decided,” said Göppingen coach Velimir Petkovic
Löwen started perfect with an opening 4:0 series, before Göppingen goalkeeperr Tobias Rutschmann had built up his concrete wall. Thanks to his performances the guest team improved, equalized at 11:11 – and from then on the game was completely open. Löwen led at the break and extended the gap to 22:18, but Göppingen always caught up. Even as Löwen went away to 31:28 six minutes before the end, nothing was decided – as Göppingen equalized again. After the 33:32, Löwen wing Ivan Cupic failed with a penalty shot in the last second against Rutschmann. Top scorers were Bjarte Myrhol (7 goals for Rhein Neckar Löwen) and Momir Rnic (8 goals for Göppingen).
SC Magdeburg (GER) vs. Dunkerque Grand Litoral HB (FRA) 25:30 (9:13)
Great step for Dunkerque, heads hanging low for Magdeburg: The Germans need a wonder to reach their in total sixth final of a European Cup competition, whilst Dunkerque have a great chance to proceed for the first time ever. Thanks to eight goals of French international Sebastien Bosquet and a hard working defence the guest took the points well-deserved. Best Magdeburg scorer was Andreas Rojewski with eight goals, too.
One thought that the extension of the contract of coach Frank Carstens would give a boost to the German team was completely wrong. The early intermediate result of 3:2 was the only time, when the former EHF Champions League winner was in lead. Dunkerque’s brave fighting defence stopped the SCM attacking attempts and in attack the French really punished the host.
After ten technical mistakes in attack Magdeburg was below 4:8 and even a time-out could not stop the downswing. In their strongest period right after the break the host reduced the margin to 13:14 in minute 36, but only ten minutes later the game was decided, as Dunkerque went away to 23:16.
EHF Challenge Cup
Maccabi “Tyrec” Tel Aviv (ISR) vs. Diomidis Argos 26:29 (11:11)
Diomidis are close to their first ever European Cup final after this well-deserved away victory in Israel. Tel Aviv started better, but the Greek team equalized with the break – and Diomidis fought hard, after Tel Aviv again extended the gap to a three goal margin (15:12) in the second half. Thanks to a strong intermediate period and in total seven goals of Samaras the Greek turned the game and secured the victory with an intermediate four goal lead. Best Tel Aviv scorer was Boskovic with ten goals.
Sporting Lissabon (POR) vs. Wacker Thun (SUI) 31:29 (12:15)
Brave fighting Portuguese still can hope for the final after a great catch-up chase in the second half. Swiss team from Thun had taken control after an equal start and was away with four goals at 12:8 and right after the break at 17:13. But all in a sudden Lisbon found their pace thanks to an improved defence – and the Swiss team stopped scoring in the final stage. Eleven minutes before the final buzzer Thun was away with 26:22, but then the host scored an incredible 8:0 series against the shocked guests to 30:26. They punished any Thun mistake by counter attacks, and Wacker could be glad to have keeper Andreas Merz between the goal bars, as he saved 18 shots.
TEXT: Björn Pazen
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