ROUND REVIEW – Clubs from Denmark and Germany remained undefeated in the first round of the Men's EHF Cup Group Phase on Saturday.
Super Saturday for German and Danish clubs
In the first round of the Men's EHF Cup Group Phase, the Danish teams GOG and HC Midtjylland both won their matches, and so did the German sides Frisch Auf Göppingen and MT Melsungen. Danish KIF Kolding Kobenhavn and German SC Magdeburg drew.
Saint-Raphael Var Handball (FRA) vs GOG (DEN) 32:36 (17:19)
GOG celebrated their comeback to a European group phase with an impressive win away against ambitious Saint-Raphael, who were in the quarter-final last season, and who hope to get even further this time.
The first half in the Palais des Sports JF Krakowski was equal with changing leads, but with the Danish visitors being two goals up at half-time.
The second half was dominated by GOG. The visitors soon doubled their half-time lead to four, and later on were six goals ahead before winning by four.
GOG coach Jakob Larsen said he was "very proud of my team. They played well, mainly during the second half. We had a little bit luck but my young team was not afraid."
His counterpart on the French side, Joël Da Silva, said that conceding 19 goals in the first half was "too much. GOG deserve the win tonight."
HC Midtjylland (DEN) vs Futebol Clube de Porto (POR) 29:26 (13:15)
Norwegian World Championship silver medalist Espen Lie Hansen was on fire as European debutants HC Midtjylland got a great opening to their group phase campaign.
Eight goals scored Hansen as Midtjylland kept both points at home after a great finish.
Porto seemed in control most of the match. After Midtjylland started by getting ahead 2:0, the visitors were leading by two or three goals until the last 12 minutes, when the home team got the upper hand and got four goals up before winning by three.
Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER) vs Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP) 29:28 (13:15)
Granollers shocked Göppingen by taking an early 0:6 lead. It became 1:7 and 2:8 before the defending EHF Cup winners started to catch up.
With five minutes left of the first half. Jens Schöngarth equalised at 10:10, but still, Granollers were two up at half-time.
Early in the second half, Manuel Späth gave the home team their first lead at 17:16, and even though Granollers got three goals ahead again, Göppingen were able to win after a thrilling finish.
KIF Kolding Kobenhavn (DEN) vs SC Magdeburg (GER) 23:23 (13:13)
It became a nail-biting thriller as KIF and Magdeburg shared the points in front of 3,455 spectators in the Sydbank Arena of Kolding.
KIF were missing their Spanish playmaler Niko Mendegia as well as their Russian right back and top scorer Konstantin Igropulo, but veteran Bo Spellerberg and Nicolas Lundbye did brilliantly in their absence.
The home team were leading by three goals several times in the first half, but the visitors were back level at half-time.
After the break, Magdeburg had the initiative most of the time and looked set for the win as they took a 22:20 lead. KIF came back once again and even had the chance to score the winning goal at the end.
“We were lucky to have some crucial saves by Kasper Hvidt and score some fortunate goals at the other end,” KIF veteran Lars Jørgensen said.
“On a day, where we did not play particularly well, I suppose we should be content with one point away against our probably strongest rival in the group,” Magdeburg´s Danish goalkeeper Jannick Green said.
MT Melsungen (GER) vs S. L. Benfica (POR) 32:22 (15:11)
Melsungen had no problems at home against Benfica. The Bundesliga team, who are in the EHF Cup Group Phase for the second time, soon got up 8:2 and later 15:8.
Benfica scored the last three goals of the first half, but after the break, the hosts increased their lead steadily throughout the last 30 minutes.
12 goals was the biggest lead for Melsungen.
“We are happy with this win as we knew it was going to be hard after our lost Bundesliga match on Wednesday. We concentrated on playing a strong physical defense,” Melsungen coach Michael Roth said.
“After half-time we produced a lot of simple faults and did not come back to a closer result,” Benfica coach Mariano Ortega said.
Helvetia Anaitasuna (ESP) vs Cocks (FIN) 30:24 (14:13)
There was no maiden win for the first Finnish team ever to enter a European group phase. Cocks were defeated by six goals from Anaitasuna, who are in the EHF Cup Group Phase for the second time.
In front of 2,000 spectators in the Polideportivo Anaitasuna in Pamplona, the first half was equal, but even though the Finnish champions offered fine resistance, the home team were one goal up at half-time.
In the last 30 minutes, Anaitasuna were able to increase their lead to six goals at the end.
Russian right wing Andrei Novoselov scored seven goals for Cocks, while another right wing, Alvaro Fernandez scored six for Anaitasuna.
"Perhaps we were nervous sometimes in attack, but we have won against a very good team,” Anaitasuna coach Juanto Apezetxea said.
Cocks coach Gintaras Savukynas added: “We made some mistakes in the second half and did not score easy goals. This game is a good experience for us and we will learn for the next games.”
TEXT: Peter Bruun / ew
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