Göppingen edge closer to Nantes
By extending their unbeaten series to five wins from five matches in the EHF Cup, Frisch Auf Göppingen have created a strong chance to clinch a berth at the EHF Cup Finals in Nantes on the 14th and 15th of May.
Swedish-born coach Magnus Andersson’s team won the all-German clash against fellow former EHF Cup winners SC Magdeburg clearly thanks to two late goals in the last minute.
Even recent good news including a draw against Flensburg in their last league match and the extension of coach Bennet Wiegert’s contract did not boost Magdeburg enough to really trouble Göppingen.
It seems history could repeat itself for the 2002 EHF Champions League winners: Like in 2013, when Magdeburg were eliminated by Rhein-Neckar Löwen in an all-German quarter-final, Saturday’s visiting team might miss the EHF Cup Finals at the hands of their compatriots once again.
"I am disappointed with the result. We played here to win and up until 21:20 had good opportunities, so it is a difficult task in Magdeburg," said Wiegert.
Men’s EHF Cup Quarter-final, First Leg
Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER) vs SC Magdeburg (GER) 31:25 (13:11)
Like in all three previous duels between these sides in the German league and cup this season, the home team finished victorious.
Magdeburg’s only lead in the first half was when the score board showed 1:0, though the hosts needed some time to adapt.
With three consecutive goals the 2011 and 2012 EHF Cup winners forged ahead from 7:7 to 10:7, but Magdeburg soon picked up the pace and played mostly level with the home side despite an 11:13 deficit at the break suggesting otherwise.
Thanks to a strong period from 2015 EHF Cup Finalist Adrian Pfahl, who arrived in Göppingen from Hamburg in January, and 2007 World Champion Michael Kraus, the hosts – boosted by 4,000 fans – took their first four-goal lead at 16:12 right after the break.
Magdeburg struck back, almost levelling the score as they closed a 17:21 deficit to 20:21 when Danish international Michael Damgaard was on fire. Alongside Austrian wing Robert Weber, Damgaard was Magdeburg’s best scorer with six goals.
But even their goals were not enough to finish the match with an away win or at least a draw. With eight minutes remaining and a score of 25:23, Magdeburg could still hope to turn the tide, but then Göppingen improved clearly in the final stages.
The hosts scored the last three goals after the score board showed 28:25, including a buzzer beater from Tim Kneule, opening the gates to Nantes with a significant advantage ahead of the return fixture on Wednesday, though captain Manuel Späth says they cannot be complacent: "We must not be blinded by the six goals and have to be wide awake and concentrate from the beginning."
TEXT: Bjorn Pazen / cg