Nantes to the Finals, last quarter-final tickets booked
Men’s EHF Cup Finals organisers HBC Nantes proceed directly to the Finals as winners of Group B after a 28:27 away win against Team Tvis Holstebro.
This means there will only be three quarter-finals, and SC Magdeburg, Fraikin BM. Granollers and Saint-Raphael Var Handball took the last tickets on Sunday. Ystads IF finish the group phase as the worst second-placed team, and so the Swedish side do not qualify for the quarter-finals.
Frisch Auf Göppingen, Bjerringbro-Silkeborg and Chambery Savoie Handball were already qualified ahead of Sunday’s matches.
SC Magdeburg (GER) vs Dinamo Bucuresti (ROU) 39:22 (17:9)
A quarter-final berth was at stake in GETEC Arena, as the loser of the match would be out of the tournament. But from the start Magdeburg left not one among the 4,260 spectators in doubt that they were determined to take the quarter-final ticket.
The hosts soon created a 3:0 lead and held advantages at 6:1, 10:4, 13:6 and 15:7 later in the first half to remain in front by eight at the half-time buzzer.
Magdeburg left wing Robert Weber caused Dinamo particular problems, as the Austrian international scored eight goals in the first half alone, which was enough for him to share the honour of top scorer in the match with Danish Michael Damgaard.
In the second half, Magdeburg continued to steamroll their opponents, increasing their lead constantly to finish the match with a 17-goal lead – the biggest difference between the two teams.
“To us, it was a final and an extremely important win. Our win was based in the defence, which was passionate and aggressive in front of a good goalkeeper,” Magdeburg coach Bennet Wiegert said.
Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP) vs Aalborg Handball (DEN) 24:24 (13:10)
Granollers celebrated their quarter-final berth after a nail-biting finish. The Spanish side needed at least a draw in order to reach the quarter-finals and a win to top the group, while for Aalborg there was nothing at stake anymore.
Granollers led 3:0 before right back Martin Larsen scored the visitors’ first goal after exactly eight minutes.
Aalborg came back to level at 6:6, but the hosts ran off again and were leading by three after a first half dominated by great goalkeeper performances from Cesar Augusto Oliveira de Almeida for Granollers and Soren Westphal for Aalborg.
The first 20 minutes of the second half belonged completely to Aalborg, who did not only catch up, but also took a four-goal lead at 20:16. Granollers came back when they were fortunate enough to play six against four, and with 11 seconds left, right wing Ferran Sole scored the crucial equalising goal for the home team.
Team Tvis Holstebro (DEN) vs HBC Nantes (FRA) 27:28 (10:13)
Nantes proceed directly to the Finals on home ground after winning the group courtesy of their one-goal victory on Sunday. Team Tvis Holstebro needed at least a 15-goal win to proceed to the quarter-finals in place of Nantes, and the odds were reasonable as last time a French team visited Grakjaer Arena, Holstebro won by 16.
That decisive victory was in the qualifiers for the EHF Cup Group Phase 2012/13, when Saint-Raphael Var Handball were defeated 35:19. But this Sunday the Danish team were never close to winning by that much.
Nantes quickly moved ahead to 12:6, and although Holstebro caught up in the second half and even led 18:17 at one stage, Nantes were the better team and finished with a narrow win.
“We knew it would be difficult, but it is a bit frustrating that we did not manage to win the game,” said Holstebro right back Peter Balling, who was top scorer in the EHF Cup before the match.
Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) vs Pfadi Winterthur (SUI) 27:27 (15:15)
When the match began Silkeborg were already sure to qualify for the quarter-finals as group winners, while Winterthur had no chance to proceed in the tournament. However, in case of a win, the Swiss team could still avoid finishing last in the group.
Still, it was Silkeborg who got the better start and established a six-goal lead at 13:7 and 14:8, but Winterthur caught up by half-time with a great finish to the first half.
The visitors, who were supported by an impressively-large number of fans in JYSK Arena in Silkeborg, kept pace with the hosts through the second half to earn a draw in the end.
“I am a bit annoyed as I think we had the game under control for most of the first half, but with a bit of a loss in concentration on our part we let them into the game,” explained Silkeborg playmaker Allan Damgaard Espersen.
“I think we played quite a good game but at the end, we had the possibility to score and win the match, but we did not. I think the draw is a fair result but we could have earned both points,” said Winterthur coach Adrian Brüggner.
SKA Minsk (BLR) vs Saint-Raphael Var Handball (FRA) 31:33 (17:17)
The two-goal win in the thriller in Minsk booked Saint-Raphael their ticket to the quarter-finals.
As Nantes had managed to quality directly for the Finals earlier on Sunday, the teams knew exactly what was at stake when they entered the court in the Belarusian capital – there would only be three quarter-finals, and a win would secure Saint-Raphael a place in one of those while Minsk could no longer reach the next stage.
Apart from three-goal leads for Saint-Raphael at 4:1 and 12:9 in the first half, the match was close all the way, with never more than two goals between the teams.
In the last 10 minutes however, it was the visitors who had the two-goal advantage, and two goals was also the difference at the end.
Danish international Alexander Lynggaard scored nine goals for Saint-Raphael, while Uladzislau Kulesh and Ivan Brouka scored eight each for Minsk.
Chambery Savoie Handball (FRA) vs CSM Bucuresti (ROU) 23:23 (12:11)
Chambery became the only team to proceed through the group phase undefeated when they finished their group phase campaign with a draw. Neither team had anything at stake, as Chambery had already won the group and CSM’s last quarter-final hopes had vanished with Ystad’s win against Anaitasuna on Saturday.
In the first half hour, the teams took turns at leading the match and it was Chambery who held a one-goal advantage at half-time.
The second half virtually became a copy of the first 30 minutes, with the lead changing hands and never more than two goals separating the teams.
Like so often before, Spanish right back Javier Gaminde was the top-scoring player for CSM. This time he hit the net nine times, while Croatian left back Damir Bicanic scored six goals for Chambery.
Sunday’s results mean Chambery win the group with 10 points, while CSM finish third with five.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / cg