ROUND REVIEW: The Men's Challenge Cup final will see a tie between last season EHF Champions League team and the former winners of the Champions Cup (forerunner of the CL).
Metaloplastika and Sävehof ready for the final
The final in the Men's EHF Challenge Cup this season will be a Serbian-Swedish affair.
That is a fact after RK Metaloplastika Sabac from Serbia and IK Sävehof from Sweden finished the job in their respective semi-final ties this weekend.
Metaloplastika were leading by eight goals after their home match against Aguas Santas-Milaneza, and thus a four goal defeat in the return match in Portugal could not hurt them.
Sävehof had a considerably narrower lead, only two goals, from their home game against KS “Azoty-Pulawy”, but as the Swedish team won by two goals again in Poland, Sävehof were also ready for the final.
On Tuesday, the draw at the EHF Office in Vienna will determine the home right in first and second leg of the final.
Enthusiastically supported by 1,200 spectators in the Associacao Atlético, Aguas Santas-Milaneza were on their way to equalising Metaloplastika's eight-goal lead from the first match.
At half-time, the Portuguese hosts had caught up with half of the deficit, as they were leading 15:11. At the end, however, they had not managed to get any closer than those four goals, and an equal second half was enough for the Serbian visitors to finish the job they started at home, and qualify for the final against Sävehof.
Left back Milos Dragas contributed a lot to Metaloplastika's triumph. Ten goals did the 201 cm tall left handed back court player score. By Milaneza, centre back Pedro Cruz came close with nine goals, but that was far from being enough for his team on this day.
KS “Azoty-Pulawy” (POL) vs IK Sävehof (SWE) 28:30 (13:19)
Being only two goals down after a 40:38 defeat in the first match in Sweden, Pulawy quite naturally eyed the chance to book the ticket for the final in safe and secure surroundings in Hala Sportowna.
It did not happen, however. For the second time in succession did Sävehof win by two goals, while both teams scored exactly ten goals less than in their first meeting.
Even though the final result indicates an equal match, the visitors were actually leading clearly for large parts of the game.
Pulawy managed to reduce Sävehof's 19:13 lead at half time to 19:16 early in the second half, but less than a quarter of an hour later were the guests leading by six again, 25:19 this time, and the home team never managed to catch up.
“Unlike the first match we defended in this game! It was a very physical match, but I think we managed to cope with that very well.
“During the week we were sent out of the Swedish championship play-offs, and that makes us even happier to having qualified for the Challenge Cup final. We are really looking forward to playing those final games,” Sävehof coach Magnus Johansson told eurohandball.com.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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