Review of the second semi-final leg of the Men's Challenge Cup Semi-finals
Minsk versus Esch in the final
Handball Esch continue to write handball history, now being the first team from Luxembourg ever to appear in the final of a European Cup competition. The team of Werner Klöckner just made the three goal win which was necessary against CSU Suceava after having lost by two in the first leg in Romania.
The opponents of the surprise package from Luxembourg will be SKA Minsk who followed their three goal win away against Runar up with a two goal victory at home against the Norwegian.
Sold-out crowd of 850 spectators in the Centre Omnisports H. Schmitz could celebrate the first team from Luxembourg entering a final of a European Cup competition, as Handball Esch managed to come back from the 23:21 away defeat to Suceava and win by the necessary three at home in the return match.
It took some time, though, before the home team and their fans could celebrate, as the Romanian visitors had the upper hand and the lead for throughout great parts of the first half.
After the break, however, the hosts managed to fight and work themselves back into the game, mainly through an increased pace, and after having equalized, in the last ten minutes the home team was able to take the three goal lead which was necessary to send them on to the final.
“Just like we expected, it turned out to be a fight between two equal teams who both practiced an attacking defence and a lot of pace. From the middle of the first half Suceava had a certain lead, but we managed to hang on to them,” Werner Klöckner, head coach of Handball Esch, told eurohandball.com.
“It was crucial to us to keep up the pace. We knew that if we could keep the match even for the first 50 minutes, our stronger bench would become deciding, and that was the way it went at the end,” Werner Klöckner added.
Left back Martin Müller had his great part in the success of Handball Esch through 11 goals, while Suceava had their most scoring player in their left back Adrian Cirut who scored seven times.
No less than 2500 spectators in the Palace of Sport in Minsk saw their local heroes taking the final step towards the final through this two goal win at home at home against Runar. After the three goal win in Norwegian Sandefjord last weekend, this war more than enough for the Belarusian team to book the tickets for the two matches against Handbal Esch in May.
The large crowd was shocked in the first 11 minutes, when Runar changed a 2:0 lead for Minsk into 9:4 in their own favour. The hosts managed to catch up, though, and at half time the score was 17:17.
In the second half, then, the Norwegians got ahead again, but once again the home team managed to catch up and even to win the second match too.
“We had the chance to qualify for the final several times, but we were not clinical enough when we were leading by four or five goals, and during the last quarter of an hour we did not get the necessary reward for our otherwise fine defence,” Runar´s head coach Marinko Kurtovic told eurohandball.com.
Centre back Barys Pukhhousky scored ten goals for SKA Mins, while left back Tobias Rivesjö was Runar´s most scoring play with eight goals.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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