MATCHDAY REVIEW: There will be only three quarter-finals played in the Men's EHF Cup as the EHF Cup Finals hosts made it through to the final tournament.
Montpellier in the quarter-final, Füchse in EHF Cup Finals
Montpellier Agglomeration HB have became the first team to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Men's EHF Cup 2013/14.
A 32:19 away win against HC Zomimak-M made things clear for Montpellier who are leading Group B in convincing style with 10 points after five matches.
Also Saturday it became a fact that Füchse Berlin proceed directly to the Men's EHF Cup Finals. As organisers, Füchse have that privilege now that they can no longer be reached in the top of Group D. A 25:25 draw against Chambéry Savoie Handball made the foxes from the German capital untouchable in their group.
Chambéry are in for a direct duel for the quarter-final next Sunday against HCM Constanta who defeated HC Sporta Hlohovec 27:25.
In Group A, Lugi HF made sure to finish in one of the two top spots, as they defeated TSV Hannover-Burgdorf 32:28, while Csurgói KK got their third home win in succession, beating Reale Ademar Leon 31:27.
In Group C, IFK Kristianstad got their first win, defeating TATRAN Presov 34:27.
Csurgo continue to be consistent on home court. Saturday afternoon, they managed to land their third home win out of three in the group phase, at the same time as they made it more than difficult for Reale Ademar Leon to qualify for the quarter-finals.
The Hungarian team, on the other hand, boosted their quarter-final chance even further, although a draw or maybe even a win away against TSV Hannover-Burgdorf next Saturday may still be needed in order to clinch the quarter-final berth.
Csurgo got the far better start to the match Saturday in the Sports hall Csurgo, and the hosts were leading with seven goals a few times in the first half which they won by six, 20:14.
In a considerably more low-scoring second half, Leon managed to work them selves back into the game, though. In fact, the visitors brought the difference down to only one goal, at 28:27, before the hosts scored the last three goals of the match and won 31:27.
Lugi made sure to finish on one of the two top spots in Group A, while they robbed Hannover-Burgdorf of their last quarter-final hope through their 32:28 win in the Förs&Frosta Sparbank Arena in Lund Saturday afternoon.
Exactly the same digits, by the way, with which Lugi defeated the German team in the two sides' first meeting in Hannover in the first round.
Despite being sure to finish in one of the top positions, Lugi cannot be absolutely sure to qualify for the quarter-finals yet, though.
As organisers, Füchse Berlin are already sure to proceed directly to the Men's EHF Cup Finals, and this means that only the three best second placed teams will get access to the quarter-finals.
This means that Lugi may need at least a draw in their last match, away against Reale Ademar Leon next Sunday in order to clinch their quarter-final berth.
Apart from the half time score 15:15, Lugi were leading all throughout the game Saturday, most of the time with three or four goals, and already with a few minutes left, the 1,836 spectators – or at least the majority of them who were supporting Lugi - could start celebrating their local heroes having taken another big step towards the quarter-finals.
“Their way of playing suited us well. When we managed to pass the ball on time and avoided getting stuck in their physically strong defence, we benefited from having many fast players who could break through,” Lugi coach Tomas Axnér told the Swedish Handball Federation's website.
Through yet another large win against Zomimak, Montpellier became the first team to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Men's EHF Cup this season.
The team from Southern France have simply won all their five matches in the group phase so far, and they continued their convincing performance Saturday evening in FYR Macedonia.
Zomimak scored the first goal in the match, but from then on, Montpellier were in complete control. A strong defence in front of a well-playing Thierry Omeyer in goal gave the visitors a lot of counter-attacks which they were good at making use of.
Thus, Montpellier got ahead 8:1 and 13:6, but through being two players more on the court twice in the first half, Zomimak managed to reduce the deficit to six goals at half time.
Throughout the second half, though, Montpellier managed to stay focused and increase their lead constantly, to 13 goals at the end.
Kristianstad got the first win in the group phase at the same time as they robbed Presov of their last chance to dream of the quarter-final this season, as the team from Southern Sweden won 34:27 at home in the Kristianstad Arena.
Kristianstad were leading from the start, and even though the visitors managed to equalise once, at 24:24, the home team was still able to create a clear distance towards the end of the game.
Through the win, Kristianstad escaped the last place in the group which has now been taken over by Presov before the last round.
3,000 spectators in Le Phare saw Füchse make sure to skip the quarter-finals and proceed directly to the Men´s EHF Cup Finals in the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin in May.
As organisers, Füchse have this privilege now that they are sure to finish on top of Group D regardless of the outcome of the matches in the last round next weekend.
Chambéry, on the other hand, will need a win away against HCM Constanta next Sunday in order to qualify for the quarter-finals.
From the start of the match, Füchse seemed to be determined to make things clear in a hurry. The visitors were leading by three goals several times, but Chambéry came back at could take a two goal lead with them to the half time break.
During the second half, the hosts were leading most of the time, but at the end the teams shared the points after all.
“It was a great fight, we showed a lot of will power. There were many mistakes made by both sides, so a draw was probably justified,” Füchse coach Dagur Sigurdsson told his club's website.
Constanta are sharing the second position in Group D with Chambéry before the two teams meet in Constanta next Sunday.
That is a fact after Constanta managed to take a narrow 27:25 win with them home from Slovakia Saturday night.
Hlohovec, who are last in the group with any points, were leading by three goals at half time in the match in the City sport hall of Hlohovec, but in the last 30 minutes, the Romanian visitors managed to turn the course of the game and live up their status favourites.
As Constanta and Chambéry drew 29:29 in their first meeting in France, the winner of the match next Sunday will qualify for the quarter-final.
In case of a draw, away goals will decide who finishes second, but seven points may not be enough for any of the teams to reach the quarter-finals.
That depends on the results in the other groups.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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