ROUND REVIEW: The qualification for the top 16 of the competition is over as also the 2003 EHF Champions League winners Montpellier Agglomeration HB.
Group phase list complete as last six teams make it
Boarding is completed in the second edition of the EHF Cup Group Phase, after the last six tickets were handed out on Sunday.
Chambery Savoie Handball only had a one goal lead with them to the away match against Alpla HC Hard, but that turned out to be enough for the Frenchmen who managed to reach the main round after all through a 25:25 draw.
TATRAN Presov could easily live with their 30:28 defeat in Slovenia against RK Maribor Branik, as the Slovakians had won their home game by eight.
The Slovakian representation in the group phase was doubled, even though HC Sporta Hlohovec lost 27:26 at home to OIF Arendal. Hlohovec had won by six in Norway, so the home defeat wad tolerable.
HCM Constanta made sure that Romanian handball will be represented among the last 16, as they led a 32:26 home win against European debutants Mors-Thy Haandbold succeed their one goal win in Denmark last weekend.
Norwegian men's handball's representation in Europe ended Sunday, even though OIF Arendal managed to win 27:26 in Slovakia. As Hllohovec had won 26:20 in Norway in the first match, that win was far from bringing the team under Leif Gautestad even near a group phase berth.
1,900 spectators in the City sport hall of Hlohovec saw an even match, in which the half time score was equal, and in which the home team´s right back Maros Balaz became the most scoring player with ten goals, while right winger Sondre Paulsen from Arendal came close with nine goals.
A one goal lead is not much to have with you to an away match in a European tie, and for most of the 60 minutes in the Sporthalle am See in Hard, Chambery had to realise this. Almost throughout the match were the Austrian hosts heading for the group phase – leading by three at half time, by four, 16:12 early in the second half, and again with four, 23:19, with nine minutes left.
Still, the French visitors managed to get a draw and reach the main round with the narrowest possibly margin.
Hard coach Markus Burger did his best to control his disappointment after the match. “Today we gave the crowd (2300) great handball. Unfortunately it was not enough. Of course, I am disappointed after having seen the team invest everything they got,” he told his club's website.
Having won 27:26 in Denmark, Constanta were favourites to proceed to the group phase, and in front of 1,600 spectators in the Sala Sporturilor, the Romanians, who failed to qualify for the Velux EHF Champions League earlier this season, finished the job and eliminated the European debutants from the North Western part of Denmark.
The match was close until half time, where Constanta were only leading by one goal, but in the last 30 minutes, the hosts managed to create a comfortable distance and win by six at the end.
Csurgói were not under heavy pressure before receiving Besiktas who were in the group phase last season. Having won 31:29 in Turkey last weekend, the Hungarians had a pleasant position ahead of the home game in Sports hall Csurgo.
And the 850 spectators could relax from an early point, as their local heroes only needed one half to make it completely clear that they were going to follow their countrymen from Pick Szeged to the group phase. When the two team went to the dressing rooms after the first 30 minutes, the home team were already leading by nine goals, and that was also the distance when the final whistle was heard in the hall.
It became a great weekend for Slovakian handball, as the country got two teams in the group phase of the EHF Cup. With an interval of half an hour, Sporta Hlohovec and Presov both qualified for the last 16.
Presov could easily live with the two goal defeat in Slovenia Sunday evening, having won the first leg as clearly as 34:26.
Presov managed to keep up with their opponents practically throughout the 60 minutes, being only one goal down at half time, and their total win was never really in danger. Nine goals from Tadej Sok on the right wing did not bring Maribor any close to the group phase they were in last season.
After their convincing 38:26 win in Russia in the first leg, Montpellier were practically through to the main round already before the return match, and on this background, the 2400 spectators in the Palais des Sports René Bougnol will undoubtedly have forgiven the player that their win “only” became half as big this time – and even that Montpellier were actually one down at half time.
“We put the conviction needed into this game. We had some injured player, but the other ones did a good job. This Kaustik team played a much better game than they did last week, and they caused us some problems during the first half, Montpellier head coach Patrice Canayer said, while left back Baptiste
Bonneford had this comment: “We had to expect that it would turn out this way, us not being very concentrated. But we played a much better second half and did not fear for the qualification. It is an important step for the club, reaching the group phase, so everybody is happy tonight.”
Find the complete overview of the Qualification Round 3 results here
Find the seeding for the Group Phase draw here
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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