ROUND REVIEW: Skjern, Hamburg and Gorenje Velenje advanced to the Men's EHF Cup Finals, but did so in contrasting fashions.
Skjern and Hamburg join Gorenje Velenje to complete EHF Cup Finals line-up
Skjern Handbold and HSV Hamburg became the last two teams to reach the Men´s EHF Cup Finals, following Rk Gorenje Velenje's success earlier on Sunday.
Skjern had to rely on away goals to secure their passage to the event in Berlin after Melsungen erased a five-goal lead.
HSV Hamburg booked the last ticket to the Max-Schmeling-Halle through a five-goal home win against Eskilstuna Guif.
Gorenje Velenje had earlier advanced after enjoying a second one-goal victory against Team Tvis Holstebro.
Men's EHF Cup quarter-final Leg 2
Skjern Handbold carried a five-goal lead into the second leg, but in the end, away goals were all that separated the teams.
A record crowd of 3,147 filled the Rothenhach-Halle in Kassel, and while the spectators did not get their desired result, there was no shortage of high-quality action.
The hosts flew out of the blocks and created their first opportunity to wipe out the five-goal deficit before the 10-minute mark, right back Michael Müller giving his team an 8:3 lead.
The Melsungen advantage grew to 10:4 before Skjern began to find their rhythm and reduce the gap to three goals at half-time.
The German side restored their five-goal edge, and maintained it for much of the second half and throughout the nervy closing stages.
However, having only scored 20 goals in the first leg in Denmark, Melsungen were eliminated in the cruelest of circumstances at the final buzzer.
Skjern goalkeer, Kristoffer Laursen, said: “It is just awesome that we are going to the Finals, and we are really happy, for we wanted this so much. It was tough today and just a bit too exciting."
HSV Hamburg (GER) vs Eskilstuna Guif (SWE) 27:22 (13:11)
The heroics of Herdeiro Lucau in the Eskilstuna goal were not enough to prevent Hamburg advancing the Men's EHF Cup Finals in Berlin.
Despite a low-scoring start, the hosts erased their Swedish visitors' three-goal edge from the first leg before moving two goals ahead and reaching the showpiece event.
On several occasions Eskilstuna were themselves two goals in front during the first half, before a strong finish from Hamburg allowed them to carry a two-goal advantage into the break.
Buoyed by that impressive closing sequence, the German giants forged ahead in the second half, building their lead up to six goals before eventually recording a five-goal victory on the night, to progress with a 53:51 aggregate success.
Team Tvis Holstebro (DEN) vs Rk Gorenje Velenje (SLO) 30:31 (16:18)
The one-goal lead, Gorenje Velenje had with them from the first match against Team Tvis Holstebro turned out to be enough, as the two teams met for the second leg in the Graakjaer Arena of Holstebro on Sunday.
After a thrilling finish, the Slovenian team could celebrate their ticket for the EHF Cup Finals at the end.
Holstebro were missing goalkeeper Jonas Hansen as well as back court players Michael Damgaard, Jacob Green and Simon Birkefeldt due to injury, and Velenje were good at benefiting from the weaknesses by the home team.
Led on by their inventive playmaker Stas Skube, the visitors came relatively easily to their goals during most of the 60 minutes, and a fine performance from goalkeeper Benjamin Buric played a considerable part too.
The away team were leading by three to five goals several times in both halves, and even though the hosts were leading by one a few times in the second half, Velenje were the better team at the end.
“We knew that we had to win in Holstebro to qualify for the finals, and through a good defence and the better nerves, we managed. I think it is the better team who qualify for the Finals,” Velenje playmaker Stas Skube told the Danish TV station TV3 Sport.
“I think we had the chances to win by the two goals we needed, but we were not keen enough in our shot, and we also have to say that Velenje played a good match, and that goes for their goalkeeper too,” Holstebro's left wing Magnus Bramming said.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br / jh
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