Hamburg, Holstebro and Melsungen win their groups, while Eskilstuna pull off surprise
Three teams have already made it to the quarter-finals of the Men’s EHF Cup ahead of the last match day next weekend.
In Group A, HSV Hamburg secured first place and thereby also a quarter-final ticket by winning 32:31 away against Gorenje Velenje.
Team Tvis Holstebro won Group B by defeating Fraikin BM. Granollers 29:24 at home, while MT Melsungen could afford a surprising 27:25 defeat away against Eskilstuna Guif and still be sure to win Group D.
Men’s EHF Cup group phase
Pfadi Winterthur (SUI) vs Haslum Handballklubb (NOR) 31:34 (15:17)
Haslum may still dream of making it to the quarter-finals of the EHF Cup.
Their 34:31 win in Switzerland allows the Norwegian champions to go on hoping.
A win of at least four goals at home against Gorenje Velenje on the last match day next weekend will grant Haslum the second place in the group, but the question arises if the six points will be enough for a quarter-final ticket.
In front of 850 spectators in the Eulachhalle in Winterthus, Haslum were leading most of the game, but never by more than three goals, and towards the end the home team managed to equalise a couple of times and to even go into the lead once, before Haslum won by a clear three goals at the end.
Gorenje Velenje (SLO) vs HSV Hamburg (GER) 31:32 (15:13)
Hamburg secured a win in Group A and the quarter-final berth, but they had to go the full 60 minutes in Slovenia in order to get the win.
The German side found themselves even behind for great parts of the game.
Velenje shocked their opponents from the start by taking a 6:1 lead during a period, in which Hans Lindberg missed two penalty shots for Hamburg.
Slowly, the visitors overcame this ‘shocking start’ and managed to reduce the deficit to two goals at half-time.
After the break, it did not take the former VELUX EHF Champions League winners long to get even and even go into the lead.
The match remained equal until the very end, before Hamburg could celebrate the group win and the quarter-final berth with a narrow one-goal win.
While Hamburg are sure to win the group and proceed to the quarter-final, Velenje will have to wait until their away game against Haslum on this coming Saturday to find out, whether the quarter-final is also on the menu for them.
Team Tvis Holstebro (DEN) vs Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP) 29:24 (13:13)
With this five-goal win, Team Tvis Holstebro did not only qualify for the quarter-finals in the EHF Cup for the second time in three years, the Danish team also made sure of winning Group A - in which they have only lost one point in their first five matches.
That point was lost against Granollers, who pulled off a 28:28 draw in the two teams’ first meeting.
During the first 30 minutes, the Spanish team also seemed to be heading for a further point or two.
The first half was equal all the way with changing leads, but with the visitors one goal up most of the time.
However, two penalty saves by Rasmus Lind in the Holstebro goal allowed the home team to go in 13:13 at half-time.
In the second half, it did not take the hosts long time to decide the matter.
Throughout the last quarter of an hour, Holstebro were leading by five or six goals, and five goals were also the gap at full time.
“I was never nervous. I was just waiting for us to turn the screw and open up the gap,” Holstebro coach Klavs Bruun Jorgensen told his club’s website.
Skjern Handbold (DEN) vs HC Vojvodina (SRB) 32:23 (14:9)
Skjern took reclaimed first place in Group C for at least the next 20 hours, until Füchse Berlin play at home against Porto late on Sunday afternoon.
If Porto don’t win, Skjern will also be ready for the quarter-finals before the last match day.
With eight points to their name, the Danish team have a healthy looking account.
A gymnastics show in Skjern’s normal home arena, Skjern Bank Arena had forced Skjern to move the match to the Grakjaer Arena in Holstebro, the home court of their rivals Team Tvis Holstebro.
This did not affect Skjern, though.
After an equal start, the home team managed to create a considerable gap at the end of the first half, and in the second half, Skjern were ten goals up several times.
“It was obvious that we had more at stake than they had, and I think we had a fine performance, and we could even afford to save some key players and give match time to some or our young players,” Skjern left back Nikolaj Markussen commented after the match.
Eskilstuna Guif (SWE) vs MT Melsungen (GER) 27:25 (16:14)
Despite the two-goal defeat in the Eskilstuna Sporthall, Melsungen are sure to win Group D.
Ahead of the last match day, the Bundesliga team is two points up on Eskilstuna, as Melsungen won the home game against the Swedish outfit by four goals.
At the same time, the surprising home win means that Eskilstuna have taken a big step towards qualifying for the quarter-final from second position.
The teams took turns at being in the lead for most of the first half, but towards half-time, Eskilstuna managed to go two-goals ahead which the hosts also were up at half-time.
In the second half, Eskilstuna kept the lead for most of the second round of 30 minutes, but right at the end the visitors managed to reduce the gap, however, this was too little too late and the Swedish side closed out the win.
“This was the most organised team we have ever beaten. It was a great win, considering what a great team we met,”
Eskilstuna coach Kristian Andrésson told the Swedish Handball Federation’s website.
“I warned my team, but they did not listen. This defeat is absolutely deserved. Guif were two goals better,” was the honest comment from Melsungen coach Michael Roth.
RK Nexe (CRO) vs Balatonfüredi (HUN) 26:27 (13:16)
When Balatonfüred played at home against Nexe on the first match day of the group phase, Nexe won by 12 goals.
This time, on Nexe’s home court, Balatonfüred did not only take their first win in the group phase, they also robbed their Croatian opponents of their last hope of reaching the quarter-finals.
The visitors were in the driver’s seat from the start, leading by five goals when the score was 9:4 until shortly before half-time, and at one point, the Hungarian team was even leading by six, before Nexe managed to reduce the gap before half-time.
In the second half, Balatonfüred were leading by five goals again several times, before the hosts crept closer but not close enough.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / bc