Scandinavian teams pull off surprises
Skjern Handbold as well as Eskilstuna Guif performed surprises, as both Scandinavian teams defeated German Bundesliga teams in the first leg of the Men’s EHF Cup Quarter-finals.
In Slovenia, 41-year-old Team Tvis Holstebro coach Klavs Bruun Jorgensen made a remarkable comeback, as his team lost narrowly to Gorenje Velenje.
Men’s EHF Cup Quarter-final, 1st leg:
Skjern Handbold (DEN) vs MT Melsungen (GER) 25:20 (12:12)
Skjern gave themselves a good chance of qualifying for the next round, as they defeated Melsungen 25:20 in front of 1,512 spectators in Skjern Bank Arena.
Both teams were set back by injuries of key players.
Skjern were without right back Kasper Sondergaard and centre back Daniel Svensson, while Melsungen were missing long-term injured playmaker Patrik Fahlgren.
The Danish team seemed to be better at compensating for their missing key players, as they went ahead 11:7.
However, led on by right back Michael Müller, who was particularly good at serving his teammates with intelligent assists, the visitors came back and even took the lead at 14:12 at the beginning of the second half.
However, not even Michael Müller could save Melsungen for an 11-minute scoring drought from which Skjern benefitted to take another four-goal lead.
That lead was even extended to six goals, before Skjern could finally book a five-goal win.
“It was a game a bit like we expected. A lot of physical strength on both sides and a lot of fighting, but with a fine result for us, of course,” Skjern’s left back Nikolaj Markussen commented after the game.
"We played a poor game, when you do not score a goal for ten minutes, you cannot win a match like this,” Melsungen coach Michael Roth told his club’s website.
Eskilstuna Guif (SWE) vs HSV Hamburg (GER) 29:26 (12:13)
For the second time this season, Eskilstuna have managed to defeat a Bundesliga team.
After beating MT Melsungen 27:25 in the group phase, the Swedish team won by three at home against HSV Hamburg and kept their hopes of qualifying to the next stage alive.
Great performances from both Eskilstuna´s goalkeeper Aron Rafn Edvardsson and Herdeiro Lucau played a major part in the surprising Swedish triumph.
The 1,551 spectators saw a first half with changing leads that ended with a one-goal lead for the visitors who also got off to the better start.
From the middle of the second half, the hosts were dominating, though, and Eskilstuna were leading by four goals several times in the last phase of the match.
“We do not play against opponents like this. Therefore we go all in and are willing to take risks when it happens. Today that worked,” Eskilstuna’s head coach Kristjan Andresson commented.
“We made far too many mistakes. We will have to improve in many areas for the second leg in order to win this quarter-final,” Hamburg coach Jens Häusler said.
Rk Gorenje Velenje (SLO) vs Team Tvis Holstebro (DEN) 28:27 (13:14)
Before the match, Team Tvis Holstebro coach Klavs Bruun Jorgensen declared that he would be content with a three or four goal defeat in the Rdeca Dvorana.
Considering those expectations ahead of the game, he would normally have been content with the one goal defeat, his team ended by suffering.
However, as Holstebro were leading most of the game, at one point in the second half even by five goals, without being able to hold on to the lead, he might have second thoughts about his comment before the game.
Injuries to left back Michael Damgaard and right back Simon Birkefeldt did not seem to bother Holstebro during the first 40 minutes of the match, where the Danish team had the upper hand.
They were leading throughout the first half which they won by one goal, and after the break they increased this to five goals at 24:19.
The injuries in the backcourt were the reason why Holstebro coach Klavs Bruun Jorgensen had indicated that he might make a comeback to active duty in the match.
After 38 minutes, the 41-year-old former Danish international actually did enter the court, but his presence could not prevent Gorenje from an impressive comeback, which ended with a narrow win for the Slovenian side.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / bc