All-German final in the EHF Cup Winner’s Cup, whilst Swiss team hopes for the second trophy in the EHF Challenge Cup.
Flensburg, Gummersbach and Thun march on
After Frisch Auf Göppingen had reached the final of the Men's EHF Cup on Friday evening thanks to a victory against Rhein Neckar Löwen two more German teams will face in the final of the Men's EHF Cup Winner’s Cup: SG Flensburg-Handewitt and surprisingly VfL Gummersbach. Swiss team Wacker Thun is the first finalist in the Men's EHF Challenge Cup.
Semi-finals, second leg:
EHF Cup Winner’s Cup:
Caja3 BM Aragon (ESP) vs. SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) 34:32 (16:13)
For the ninth time in history, SG Flensburg-Handewitt have reached a final of an EHF European Cup competition. Eleven years after their last title in the Cup Winners’ Cups, now the Northern Germans dream of their next trophy.
The way to the final was already paved before the starting whistle in Saragossa attended by 5000 spectators, as Flensburg had won the first leg with a nine goal margin. Aragon played much stronger than in the first leg, but the biggest gap were goals – so the Spaniards could not endanger the proceeding of Flensburg. Carton (Aragon) and Kaufmann (Flensburg) were the top scorers with each nine goals, aside Flensburg goalkeeper Mattias Andersson had a perfect day with 20 saves.
VfL Gummersbach (GER) vs. HC Pivovarna Celje Lasko (SLO) 32:25 (16:9)
Thrilling match with a surprising happy end: VfL Gummersbach have reached their fourth straight final in a European Cup competition – and the third consecutive in the Cup Winner’s Cup, which the Germans won in 2010 and 2011 after raising the EHF Cup trophy in 2009.
The match was on the edge for 60 minutes – and in the end the bigger number of away goals had to decide, as both teams won their home matches with a difference of each seven goals. After a great start Gummersbach had been away with seven goals even at the break, but then the Slovenians – 2004 EHF Champions League winner – improved and reduced the gap to 19:22 ten minutes before the end thanks to the saves of goalkeeper Mateuz Skok. But Gummersbach never gave up, and right back Adrian Pfahl – top scorer with eight goals – was the leader in the catch-up chase of the final stage. Croatian international But Vedran Zrnic was the hero to score the decisive 32:25 20 seconds before the end.
EHF Challenge Cup:
Wacker Thun (SUI) vs. Sporting CL (POR) 28:26 (15:14)
Wacker Thun have reached the final of the EHF Challenge Cup for the second time after 2005, when they took the trophy against Braga – but to proceed to the 2011/2012 final was a kind of “Hitchcock thriller” like in Gummersbach. After the 29:31 defeat in Lisbon last weekend the bigger number of away goals decided this encounter.
One minute before the end Roland Casper scored the decisive 28:26 – and the Portuguese team was not able to hit the back of the net in the last minute. Left wing Luca Linder was the top scorer for the Swiss team, which just had won the national cup in the final against VELUX EHF Champions League participant Kadetten Schaffhausen. The whole match against Sporting was on the edge, one of the keys to success was Wacker playmaker Jakub Szymanski, who scored three of the last five Thun goals.
The final opponent of Wacker Thun will be decided on Sunday in the match AC Diomidis Argous (GRE) vs. Maccabi “Tyrec” Tel Aviv (ISR). The Greek team had won the first leg 29:26.
TEXT: Björn Pazen
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