First leg review of the Men's Challenge Cup Semi-finals
Minsk heading for final, Esch with good chance
SKA Minsk have set course for the Men´s Challenge Cup final after a 32:29 goal win against Runar in the first leg in Norway. Being three goals ahead before the home game, the Belarusian almost have one leg in the final.
In the other tie things seem more equal at first sight. A two goal lead after winning the first 23:21 at home against Handball Esch is not exactly a reassuring bolster to travel to Luxembourg with for Romanian CSU Suceava.
Minsk took a major step towards the final, as they managed to win by three goals away against Runar in the first leg in Norway. Spectators in Runarhallen in Sandefjord saw the visitors get the better start and being dominant in the first half which they won by four. An improved performance by the hosts in the last 30 minutes did not change the picture much, and Minsk appear to be favourites before the second leg.
”We were up against a sharp and well-playing Minsk team, but we made it a bit too easy for them at the start. We played a very poor first half, particularly in our defence, and that was the reason why we were three, four or five goals behind all the time,” Runar´s head coach Marinko Kurtovic told eurohandball.com.
“In the second half our defence and our keepers improved, but it was not enough to catch up with Minsk,” Kurtovic added.
Barys Pukhouski and Siarhei Shylovich were Minsk´s most scoring players with seven goals each, the same amount that
Handball Esch may very well be the first team from Luxembourg ever to reach a European final. They are already the first team from the country to reach the final four in a European Cup competition, and the chance to make even more history this season still exists, after the team of coach Werner Klöckner managed to narrow the away defeat against Suceava down to two goals in the first leg.
Supporters in the Sport hall Suceava saw the home team apparently being on the way to making everything clear already in the first half, being ahead by five at half time.
During the second half, though, the visitors managed to reduce the margin, and catching up with the two goal deficit does not look like an impossible task at all before the second leg in the Centre Omnisport H. Schmitz Saturday.
Left back Martin Müller from Esch was most scoring player in the match with eight goals, while Suceava had their top scorer in right winger Razvan Gavriloaia who was successful seven times.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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