ROUND REVIEW: Several big names return to the EHF Cup Group Phase, while other have been eliminated
11 more teams ready for the group phase
After St. Petersburg HC became the first team to qualify for the EHF Cup phase already on Friday, 11 more teams followed Saturday. The last four of the 16 teams are going to be found Sunday.
Winning the second leg against Nexe was far from being enough for Turda to proceed to the group phase for the first time ever.
Turda were trying to solve the almost impossible task of catching up with the 15 goal deficit they had with them from the first leg in Croatia last Saturday, when Nexe won as big as 35:20.
The Romanian team was leading by three goals at half time, but the hosts never even got near to close the enormous gap from the first match.
Obviously, it did not make things any better for Turda that they missed both their penalty shots in the match, and at the end they had not got any closer than the three goals they were up at half time, and Nexe could celebrate their first group phase in history.
Bacau were not any more fortunate than their countrymen from Turda, although they had a better position after the first leg against Team Tvis Holstebro.
Five goals separated the two teams before the return match in the Sala Sportirulor in Bacau Saturday afternoon, but already at half time, the visitors had increased that difference to eight, as they were leading by three.
In the second half, that lead was increased to 17:12 and 21:15, and even though the home team managed to come closer towards the end, it was not enough, neither for an aggregate win nor for just winning the return match.
Team Tvis Holstebro, who finished third in the EHF Cup in the 2012/13 season, could thereby celebrate their second group phase berth in three years.
“We controlled them completey, and realistically speaking there was class difference. We could have won bigger if it had been needed,” Team Tvis Holstebro coach Klavs Bruun Jørgensen told his club's website.
Right wing Josep Masachs became top scorer for Bacau and in the match with eight goals, while Peter Balling, Jonas Larholm and Michael Damgaard scored five each for Holstebro.
Before the return match against Volgograd, Haslum coach Tom-Eirik Skarpsno characterised his team's chances to qualify for the group phase as being 50%.
“A good performance will boost our chances, though”, he said. It has to be said that his players made a really good performance in the second leg in Nadderudhallen in Bekkestua Saturday afternoon.
Already at half time, Haslum were leading by seven goals, 17:10, and at the end, the score board showed a ten goal win for the Norwegian champions.
Of course, this was more than enough to make up for the three goal defeat in Russia last Sunday, at not even 12 goals from Volgograd´s left back Vitaly Komogorov could help the visitors.
With eight goals each, Swedish line player Christoffer Brännberger and left back Anders Roe made their contributions to Haslum´s first EHF Cup group phase berth ever.
Not even ten goals from left wing Radoslav Antl or the support from 3,125 spectators was enough to bring Tatran Presov near the chance to catch up with Melsungen's seven goal lead from the first match in Kassel last Saturday.
If the former EHF Champions League participants from Slovakia should have had a chance to reach the group phase, as they did the previous two years, they should have got a much better start in the home game in the City Hall of Presov Saturday evening, than they did.
Already at half-time, the matter seemed to be decided, as Melsungen were leading 16:11.
Presov managed to improve their performance in the second half, and even enough to get a narrow win in the return match, but far from enough to threaten the group phase berth of the European debutants from the German Bundesliga who had their most successful scorers in Swedish centre back Patrik Fahlgren and Serbian left back Momir Rnic with five goals each.
Once before have Balatonfüred been among the Last 16 in a European Cup competition. That was in the Cup Winners' Cup in the 2010/11 season.
Now they are among the last 16 in the EHF Cup and thereby in the group phase, making sure that Hungary will be represented by at least one team in that competition this season.
On home ground, Balatonfüred did not only catch up with Hard's five goal lead from the first match in Austria, but also to win by eight in the return match and with three on aggregate.
Already at half time, Balatonfüred had managed to catch up with four goals out of the five goal deficit they had taken with them back from Austria last Saturday, and in the second half, they managed to double that lead, for a great part thanks to ten goals from centre back Balazs Szöllösi.
Elverum Handball Herrer (NOR) vs HCM Constanta (ROU) 29:30 (15:15)
Earlier this season, Constanta failed to qualify for the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase. Saturday, they made sure that Romanian handball will at least be represented in the EHF Cup Group Phase.
Their six-goal win at home in the first leg last Saturday was followed by a one goal win in the return match in Terningen Arena in Elverum Saturday afternoon.
The two teams followed each other through the first half, and in the last 30 minutes, Elverum were never even near closing the six goal gap either.
For a great part, this was due to a brilliant performance by Mihai Popescu in the Constanta goal. At the other end of the court, Spanish right back Javier Gaminde made his contribution to sending the Romanian champions to the group phase by scoring ten goals.
“We managed to create scoring opportunities all the time, but we were not good enough at benefitting from them. I do not know why,” Elverum's Finnish left back Leonel Ojala told the Norwegian newspaper Østlendingen.
Norwegian international André Lindboe was most scoring player for Elverum with five goals.
2,000 spectators in the Palace of Sport in Minsk saw their local heroes fight in vain to catch up with Vojvodina's five goal lead from the first leg last Saturday, when the two teams met for the return match in the early evening hours Saturday.
Already at half-time, Minsk had caught up with three of five goals, they had lost by in Serbia, but as the second half ended in a stand-off, this was as far as the Belarusian hosts got.
Centre back Vadim Gayduchenko did what he could for Minsk by scoring seven goals, while Georgian left back Sergo Datukashvili scored six times for Vojvodina who could celebrate their first EHF Cup Group Phase berth in history.
The previous two years, Gorenje Velenje have been the VELUX EHF Champions League, and on both occasions they reached the last 16.
This season, they have made sure that Slovenian handball is represented in EHF Cup Group Phase once again.
Having won the first leg away against Permskie Medvedi by three goals, Velenje removed the last possible bit of doubt in the return match at home in the Rdeca Dvorana.
1,200 spectators saw the home team being seven goals up already at half time, and at the end they could go home happy after seeing their local heroes winning by ten and by 16 on aggregate.
While Permskie Medvedi were never even near a group phase ticket, the Russian visitors at least had the top scorer of the match, as their left back Igor Soroka scored nine goals.
Gorenje Velenje's most scoring player was also a left back, as Marko Dujmovic scored eight times.
3,150 spectators in the Palacio de los Deportes de Leon did their best to spur their team on to catching up with five goals, Porto were leading by from the first match.
However, the effort from the many spectators was as much in vain as the efforts from the Ademar players on the court.
Ademar Leon managed to win the match, but only with three goals, and it does not take a mathematical genius to figure out, that this was two goals too little to equalise Porto's total lead.
Leon's Brazilian centre back Joao da Silva became most scoring player of the match with eight goals, while another Joao right back Joao Ferraz scored six time for Porto who exchanged last season's VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase campaign with a ticket for the EHF Cup Group Phase for the first time.
Having won by eight goals at home a week ago, Eskilstuna could easily afford the three goal defeat Saturday night in the Palacia Municipal Deportes de Huesca.
The 1,800 spectators saw the Swedish visitors improving their chances even further by being able to keep up with the hosts throughout the first half, so when the two teams entered the court for the last 30 minutes, Eskilstuna still had their eight goal lead with them.
Still, the matter became slightly exciting, as Huesca managed to get up by five goals at 21:16 with a little more than ten minutes left, but that was as far as the Spanish home team got, at the end, Eskilstuna could celebrate the group phase berth for the second time after their debut in the 2012/13 season.
Right wing Emil Andersson scored seven goals for Eskilstuna, while Huesca had the top scorer of the match, as their right wing Antonio Llorente scored nine times.
After a nail-biting finish in the Palais des Sport de Beaulieu in Nantes, Füchse and the many fans they had with them to France could celebrate their group phase berth due to having scored more goals away than their French adversaries.
5,000 spectators saw Nantes leading narrowly through most of the first half which the home team also won by two goals. The second half became equal until the last minutes, when Nantes went from 22:22 to the final win 28:23.
However, due to the fact that Nantes had only been able to score 18 goals in the first meeting between the two teams, Füchse were the ones who could cheer at the end.
Czech international Pavel Horak was Füchse's most scoring player with six goals, while centre back Nicolas Claire became top scorer for Nantes and in the match with seven goals.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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