ROUND REVIEW: The EHF Cup Group Phase comes to an end with three matches on Sunday, but only one had a place in the next round at stake
Leon leave on a high as Constanta grab final spot
HCM Constanta booked the last ticket for the EHF Cup quarter-finals, as they won the direct duel for a quarter-final place at home against Chambéry Savoie Handball 29:25.
In Spain, Reale Ademar Leon secured second place in Group A after a win against Lugi HF who had qualified for the quarter-finals already Saturday without playing, but as Leon only reached six points, they ended up as the only second-placed team who did not reach the quarter-finals.
In another match with low significance, EHF Cup Finals participants and hosts Füchse Berlin won 34:28 at home against HC Sporta Hlohovec.
Reale Ademar Leon (ESP) vs Lugi HF (SWE) 32:27 (17:13)
Neither team really had anything at stake. TSV Hannover-Burgdorf´s 27:26 win against Csurgói KK on Saturday had made Lugi sure to win the group and qualify for the quarter-finals, while Leon had lost their last quarter-final hopes already before this weekend.
The Lugi delegation got the news of their quarter-final berth in the hotel in Spain, where they were preparing for the match.
“The speed of the live update from Hannover varied from hotel room to hotel room, so there were different shouting from the various rooms. I am proud that we have kept believing in our chance all the way, and that we were not intimidated by facing high-profiled stars,” Lugi coach Tomas Axnér said as his team´s quarter-final berth was a fact.
Even though the Swedish team had made their way to the quarter-finals already, they got the better start in the Palacio de los Deportes.
However, after several two goals leads for the visitors, Ademar took control, and after a four goal lead at half time, they bowed out of the EHF Cup with a five-goal win.
The win gave Ademar the second place in Group A, but as they were the poorest second-placed team with only six points, this second place did not bring them any further in the competition.
HCM Constanta (ROU) vs Chambéry Savoie Handball (FRA) 29:25 (15:14)
Constanta became the sixth and final quarter-finalist in the EHF Cup after a thriller which was closer and more dramatic, than the final result indicates.
The situation before the match was clear. The winner would take the last place in the quarter-finals, as both team were equal with six points and a 29:29 draw in their first meeting.
Chambéry were reaching out for the win and the quarter-final in the middle of the second half, when the visitors scored five goals in a row and changed an 18:15 deficit into a 20:18 lead.
However, an irresistible finish from Constanta sent the quarter-final berth back to the Romanian team at the end.
Constanta also got the better start to the match, leading 7:3, but Chambéry got back and had a few one goal leads, before the home team could take a 15:14 lead with them to half time after all.
At the beginning of the second half, Constanta went three goals up again at 17:14 and 18:15, but another comeback from Chambéry gave the visitors the lead at 20:18 and 22:19, before Constanta set off on a brilliant finish which changed a 22:24 deficit into the 29:25 win.
Füchse Berlin (GER) vs HC Sporta Hlohovec (SVK) 34:28 (17:14)
Both teams could take it easy in this meeting in the Max Schmeling-Halle.
Füchse had secured their group win already before the match, and as organisers, they had made sure to go all the way to the EHF Cup Finals, also in the Max Schmeling-Halle in the weekend of 17-18 May.
Hlohovec had lost their last chance to reach the quarter-finals long ago and could only hope to erase the zero in the points account, but this seemed very unlikely.
The visitors were leading 1:0 and 2:1, but from then on Füchse were in charge, and after a 17:14 lead at half-time, the handball pride of the German capital capped off their group phase campaign with a 34:28 win.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor
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