Boarding completed in the Men’s EHF Cup Quarter-finals
Füchse Berlin, SC Magdeburg, MT Melsungen, Saint-Raphael Var Handball, Grundfos Tatabanya KC and Helvetia Anaitasuna are in the quarter-finals of the Men’s EHF Cup, while Frisch Auf Göppingen proceed directly to the LIQUI MOLY EHF Cup Finals – those are the facts after Saturday’s matches, which leave the very last group match on Sunday between RK Riko Ribnica and GOG with nothing but pride at stake.
• All Men’s EHF Cup Quarter-finalists are confirmed before the last group match on Sunday
• All four groups are won by German teams
• Füchse Berlin suffered their only defeat in the group phase in their last group match
• Last season's third team Granollers finished as the worst second ranked team and will miss quarter-finals
Saint-Raphael Var Handball (FRA) vs Füchse Berlin (GER) 27:21 (11:12)
In the last match of the day, Saint-Raphael booked the final ticket to the quarter-finals. At the same time, the team from southern France caused group winners Füchse their first and only defeat in the group phase.
“It was a match in the image of our season: We are capable of the best and the worst,” said Saint-Raphael coach Joel Da Silva. “In the first half, we were stressed, and had a lack of success in shooting. In the second half, we defended better and regained our level in attack. It is a great relief to join the quarter-finals.”
Saint-Raphael needed at least a draw in order to proceed to the quarter-finals, but in the end, they achieved considerably more than that.
The first half was equal, with never more than one goal separating the teams, and the goal difference at half-time showed the course of the event very well.
Early in the second half, Saint-Raphael seemed to be heading for the win, as they took a three-goal lead at 18:15.
However, Füchse came back at 18:18 – though it was only to see the hosts run off again, turning 20:20 into 25:20 in their favour.
At that point, the game was decided, and the home team even managed to add another goal to their clear win.
HC Midtjylland (DEN) vs Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP) 24:27 (13:17)
Granollers did what they could to keep their quarter-final dreams alive on Saturday afternoon in Herning, controlling the game more or less all the way.
Midtjylland were only leading once in the whole match, at 6:5 in the first half. During the rest of the 60 minutes, Granollers were in the driver’s seat, holding their largest lead at six goals a couple of times in the second half.
Through a fine comeback, the home team managed to reduce the distance to only one goal at 23:24 with six minutes left, but that was as close as the European debutants came.
“We started more or less according to our plan and our first half was fine.
“The second half was tougher, and we did not reach our aim to win by more than six goals,” Granollers coach Carlos Viver said.
All Granollers could do after the win was start an anxious wait for the results of the other matches, which were going to determine their fate in the tournament – and things did not play out in their favour as they relied on another second-ranked team finishing on six points.
Saturday’s results mean that Granollers finish second in the group – but are the lowest-ranked second-placed team and will therefore not contest the quarter-finals, while Midtjylland finish last.
Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER) vs Futebol de Clube do Porto (POR) 30:28 (10:13)
Neither team had anything at stake when the match in the EWS Arena started. Göppingen were sure to win the group and proceed directly to the LIQUI MOLY EHF Cup Finals, which they are hosting.
Porto’s last hope to reach the quarter-finals had vanished with Granoller’s win earlier on Saturday.
Still, the visitors did not seem to be too disappointed by this fact, as they opened the match in optimistic style.
The Portuguese side pulled ahead 3:0 and 6:2, and held on to a two to four-goal lead throughout the first half.
In the last 30 minutes, Göppingen caught up and nine minutes into the second half, Marcel Schiller equalised at 18:18 through one of the nine goals that made him top scorer in the match.
Two minutes later, it was Schiller who gave the home team their first lead as he made it 19:18.
The teams then took turns leading by one goal, until Göppingen created the deciding three-goal advantage in the last minutes.
Grundfos Tatabanya KC (HUN) vs SC Magdeburg (GER) 28:31 (12:17)
Much to the joy of the many German fans in Audi Arena, Györ, SC Magdeburg won the group and therefore kept their undefeated record through the group phase intact.
Both teams were qualified for the quarter-finals before the match began, but first place in the group was still at stake. In this respect, Magdeburg could do with a draw, as they were one point ahead of Tatabanya.
During the first quarter of an hour, a draw did not seem like an unlikely outcome. The game was equal, with the two teams taking turns at leading by a single goal, but as Magdeburg changed an 8:8 stand-off into a 12:8 lead in their own favour, it proved the beginning of the decision.
By way of a five-goal advantage at half-time, the visitors continued to control the game in the second half. Tatabanya reduced the deficit to two goals a few times, but they never pulled off a real comeback.
“Magdeburg has much bigger international experience than we have, and this was visible. All together I’m satisfied with my team. They did their best and we are happy to be qualified for the next round,” said Tatabanya coach Vladan Matic.
For the second EHF Cup match in succession, Danish international Michael Damgaard top scored the match with 10 goals for Magdeburg.
“I’m happy that we could win this game, because it was very important for us. We won thanks to good our defence, which worked very well,” said Damgaard.
KIF Kolding Kobenhavn (DEN) vs Maccabi CASTRO Tel Aviv (ISR) 36:31 (18:14)
Neither team had anything at stake as Kolding were sure to finish third and Tel Aviv fourth in the group.
Still, the match was historic, as two legends of many years in Danish handball, Kolding veterans Kasper Hvidt and Lars Jorgensen, were playing their last European match. Both are ending their career after this season.
While Jorgensen spent the entire match on the bench, nursing back problems, Hvidt guarded the goal during the first half and a bit, as head coach Carlos Ortega gave court time to several young players for the future.
Kolding were in control all the way, enjoying their largest leads at eight goals a few times in the second half.
MT Melsungen (GER) vs Cocks (FIN) 33:19 (15:8)
Melsungen needed a win to qualify for the quarter-finals, and a win was certainly what they got. The German side left no doubt after they took the upper hand from the start.
It did not take the hosts long to establish a three-goal lead, and this advantage increased constantly throughout the first half, in which the home team were already leading by seven goals before half-time.
In the second half, Melsungen continued to increase their lead, making sure they were the fourth German team out of four to win their group.
Michael Allendorf was the top scorer for Melsungen and of the match, with nine goals, while Teemu Tamminen scored five times for Cocks, who finished their first European group phase campaign with zero points.
Helvetia Anaitasuna (ESP) vs S.L. Benfica (POR) 35:28 (17:12)
Anaitasuna are following Melsungen to the quarter-finals from Group D. The Spanish side claimed second position in the group through their clear home win on Saturday night.
Benfica were leading the group before the last match day, while the Portuguese side finish third after the final game – and are forced to settle for the fact that not even eight points are enough to reach the next round from this group.
Benfica started the match in Pamplona in style, leading by one to two goals for a long time.
However, five straight Anaitasuna goals changed a 7:5 advantage for the visitors into a 10:7 lead for the home team, who did not give surrender control after that.
Instead, Anaitasuna increased their advantage to seven goals before the break, and in the second half, led by nine goals a couple of times before thrilling the 3,000 spectators with a seven-goal win.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / cg