Velenje book last quarter-final ticket
Only one thing was still waiting to be decided ahead of the last match day of the group phase in the Men’s EHF Cup. Which team was going to book the last ticket for the quarter-finals?
Gorenje Velenje took it and left no doubt, winning 34:22 away against Haslum Handbalklubb.
This meant that Fraikin BM. Granollers’s 30:26 win against St. Petersburg HC did not help the Spanish team.
In Group C, Füchse secured the first spot through a 30:25 win in Serbia against HC Vojvodina.
Men’s EHF Cup group phase
Haslum Handballklubb (NOR) vs Gorenje Velenje (SLO) 22:34 (11:17)
Gorenje Velenje had their destiny in their own hands.
A win in Norway would give them the last place in the quarter-finals, and the Slovenian team showed from the start that they were determined to leave no doubt in people’s minds.
A perfect start and a 4:1 lead for the visitors was increased to 7:2 and 12:6, and at half-time Velenje were still leading by six goals.
Winning did not seem to be enough for Velenje, though, and throughout the second half they managed to exactly double their half-time lead which was more than sufficient to celebrate a quarter-final berth.
“I think this was our weakest performance in the group phase. We did not managed to keep in contact from the beginning, so unfortunately, it was a quite embarrassing affair today,” Haslum coach Tom-Eirik Skarpsno commented.
Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP) vs St. Petersburg HC (RUS) 30:26 (13:13)
All Granollers could do was try to win and then hope for Gorenje Velenje to stumble against Haslum.
As Velenje did not stagger in Norway, Granollers were never even near the quarter-final this Saturday afternoon.
Actually, the Spanish team even had trouble winning their own game.
St. Petersburg were leading for most of the first half, and also at the beginning of the last 30 minutes.
However, as Granollers managed to change an 18:15 deficit into a 23:19 lead around the middle of the half, it was the beginning of the end for the Russian visitors.
The win did secure Granollers the second position in Group B, but with only seven points, the Spanish club finished as the lowest ranking second placed team, which means that they missed the quarter-final.
Futebol Clube do Porto (POR) vs Skjern Handbold (DEN) 23:24 (13:14)
A strong finish, changing a 23:20 deficit into a 24:23 win ended Skjern’s group phase successfully.
Skjern were sure to qualify for the quarter-final before even travelling to Portugal, but the Danish team could still hope to win the group if Füchse should stumble in Serbia.
Porto, on the other hand, could no longer reach the knock-out rounds.
Skjern were missing right wing Rene Rasmussen, right back Kasper Sondergaard, and playmaker Lasse Mikkelsen due to injury, but still the visitors were able to overcome a strong start from the home team and go one goal up at half-time.
At the beginning of the second half, Skjern still had the upper hand, but the home team managed to turn the table and go three goals up, before Skjern secured the win through a strong finish.
HC Vojvodina (SRB) vs Füchse Berlin (GER) 25:30 34:26 (11:17)
Before the match even started in Novi Sad, Füchse were sure to qualify.
Through the win Saturday evening, the Bundesliga side also secured the first place in Group C, while Vojvodina became the only team in the group phase who finished without a single point in their six matches.
Füchse were leading for 60 minutes, and early in the first half they established a clear lead, which they never gave away.
In the second half, the visitors were leading by seven goals several times, before the home team managed to reduce the deficit slightly towards the end.
MT Melsungen (GER) vs RK Nexe (CRO) 34:26 (20:14)
Melsungen, who were not only sure to reach the quarter-finals, but also to win the group, finished the group phase in style
Just like Melsungen, Nexe had nothing as stake, as they lost their last hope of reaching the quarter-final last weekend.
Melsungen were in the lead from the start, and as they went from 6:5 to 13:5, the match seemed more or less decided at that stage.
After a six-goal lead for the home team at half-time, the visitors managed to reduce the gap to three goals early in the second half, but the hosts soon increased it to nine goals before finally winning by eight.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / bc