Great weekend for France and Denmark
It was a good weekend for French and Danish club handball as 16 teams secured their place in the Men’s EHF Cup group phase, with all three teams from France and Denmark qualifying.
After Chambery Savoie Handball and HBC Nantes qualified on Saturday, Saint-Rafael Var Handball followed on Sunday.
Team Tvis Holstebro and Bjerringbro-Silkeborg accompany Aalborg Handball to form the group phase’s Danish trio.
Grundfos Tatabanya KC (HUN) vs Ystads IF (SWE) 20:31 (11:16)
Ystads IF will be the only Scandinavian side outside of Denmark in the group phase.
The Swedish team was under pressure after their 28:28 draw at home in the first leg, but eliminated all doubts with an impressive performance in the return match in Hungary, where 13 goals from 19-year-old left back Lukas Nilsson played a big part in the Swedish triumph.
“What a wonderful win! I would say that this was our best match this season. Everything just worked out right for us,” Ystad coach Sebastian Seifert told his club’s website after the triumph.
Dinamo Bucuresti (ROU) vs RK Maribor Branik (SLO) 31:25 (20:9)
RK Maribor Branik took a narrow 27:26 lead with them to the Romanian capital, and it did not take Dinamo Bucuresti long to change things at home.
At half-time, the hosts were already leading by 11 goals. Even though the visitors managed to reduce the gap somewhat in the second half, there was never any real doubt that Dinamo would proceed to the group phase for the first time, which they do courtesy of a six-goal win.
SKA Minsk (BLR) vs Alpa HC Hard (AUT) 35:23 (17:12)
The match in the Palace of Sport in Minsk was really a formality, as SKA Minsk were practically already in the bowl for the Tuesday draw after winning 33:23 in Austria in the first leg last weekend.
Still, the Belarusian team gave the 1500 spectators value for their money and put on a strong performance to record another big win; this time by 12 goals.
Team Tvis Holstebro (DEN) vs Rk Gorenje Velenje (SLO) 32:27 (18:14)
Team Tvis Holstebro took thorough revenge for their narrow aggregate defeat to Rk Gorenje Velenje in the quarter-final of the EHF Cup last season, following their 29:25 away win in the first leg with a five-goal win at home Sunday.
Holstebro started the second leg by creating a 5:0 score line, and were in full control for the rest of the match.
“It is obvious that our fabulous start made everything a lot easier for us,” Holstebro coach Patrick Westerholm told the club’s website.
Helvetia Anaitasuna (ESP) vs Hubo Initai Hasselt (BEL) 24:26 (13:16)
Helvetia Anaitasuna can thank their 28:20 win in the first leg in Belgium last weekend for their group phase berth, as it meant they could take things a bit easy at home.
Hubo Initai Hasselt were leading by three goals at half-time, but when they could not increase that lead with five minutes left, at which point the score was 25:22, the chance for the first Belgian team to qualify for the EHF Cup group phase vanished, and the Spanish team celebrated after all.
Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) vs Talent M.A.T. Plzen (CZE) 35:23 (15:10)
Having won 31:28 in the Czech Republic last Sunday, Bjerringbro-Silkeborg were the clear favourites to proceed to the group phase – and the Danish team did not disappoint the 1900 spectators in JYSK Arena in Silkeborg.
The home team quickly created a 6:2 advantage, and after holding a five-goal lead at half-time, continued to a 12-goal win.
“It was important to us to get a good start. It was all about putting out their light, so they did not get any idea that they might be able to record a result in their favour,” said Danish international Nikolaj Oris Nielsen, who was Bjerringbro-Silkeborg’s top scoring player with eight goals in the match.
Saint-Raphael Var Handball (FRA) vs Haukar (ISL) 30:18 (15:6)
Saint-Raphael Var Handball made sure they would follow Chambery and Nantes to the group phase with a clear defeat of the Icelandic champions on Sunday.
The French team won the away game in Iceland 29:28, a result which gave them the edge ahead of the return match in Palais des Sports JF Krakowski.
Saint-Raphael left no doubt in front of 1140 spectators on the home court. At half-time the home team led by nine goals – a lead that would increase to 12 through the last 30 minutes.
OIF Arendal (NOR) vs Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP) 28:26 (11:14)
Taking an eight-goal lead with them after their 29:21 win at home, Fraikin BM. Granollers had a strong chance to clinch their second group phase berth in succession when they visited Norway on Sunday.
The Spanish team did qualify for the group phase, but it was not thanks to another win.
Granollers were leading 14:11 at half-time, but the home team made a fine comeback after the break and won by two, with ten goals from left wing and Norwegian international Magnus Joendal playing a significant part in the victory.
Frigorificos Morrazzo (ESP) vs CSM Bucuresti (ROU) 29:29 (14:11)
Bucharest will be represented by two teams in the group phase this season, after CSM Bucuresti secured their berth on Sunday, following Dinamo to next stage of the tournament.
CSM went into the second-leg match defending a seven-goal lead, having won 31:24 at home last weekend.
For a while, the Spanish hosts seemed to be well on their way to catch up, leading by three at half-time.
But at the end, the Romanian guests managed to secure a draw and a ticket for the group phase, with even the ten goals from centre back David Garcia Barreiro not enough for the home team to cause an upset.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / cg