Mertens makes lucky Magdeburg extremely happy
It was one of the fiercest handball battles of the season with three red cards (all for the visitors) and 14 suspensions - and in the end a lucky winner: Thanks to the last goal of Lukas Mertens and a blocked direct free throw at the buzzer, SC Magdeburg beat Sporting CP 36:35 and luckily booked the ticket for the quarter-finals against HBC Nantes. The defending champions are the last German team in the competition, after Berlin and Lemgo had been eliminated earlier tonight. A 35:35 draw would have been enough for Sporting after the 29:29 tie in the first leg, but Mertens and top scorer Omar Ingi Magnusson turned a 34:35 deficit into a victory.
SC Magdeburg (GER) vs Sporting CP (POR) 36:35 (21:19)
First leg: 29:29
- Omar Ingi Magnusson vs the Costa brothers had already been the duel in the first, mostly equal half: the Icelander netted seven times, in contrast to Martim's (five) and Francisco's (four) combined nine Sporting goals - in the end, Magnusson was on ten, the Costa brothers on 17 strikes
- four times in the first half, SCM were ahead by three goals, but could not cast off their opponents, the biggest gap after the 18:15 scoreline was only two goals
- by the 42nd minute, three Sporting players had been sent-off with red cards: Mamadou Gassama received a direct one already in the first half, and Jonas Tidemand and Carlos Araujo had to sit on the bench after each three suspensions
- despite these absences, Sporting took the lead for the first time after the break at 29:28, when Martim Costa scored his eighth goal - twice, at 33:31 and 34:32, Sporting were even ahead by two goals
- finally, two saves of goalkeeper Mike Jensen and a lot of luck in an extremely emotional final minute were the keys for SCM to proceed
Magdeburg avoid complete German failure
Since the start of the EHF Cup in the 1993/94, never have the quarter-finals of the second-tier competition been played without any German team; in the last 17 years, the winner of EHF Cup or European League came from Germany 16 times- and now SC Magdeburg are the last and lucky survivors of this thrilling Last 16 night. In the 2013/14 season, the three quarter-finals had been played without a German team, but Füchse Berlin had qualified directly for the EHF FINALS as hosts. Since the EHF Cup was merged in the 2012/13, at least two German teams had been part of the quarter-finals. But SCM can be anything but sure about making it to the final tournament, facing Nantes in the next stage.
It was a tough game, and we are very happy to check into the quarterfinals.