Constanta create shockwaves as they eliminate finalists Granollers
Last season’s finalists, Fraikin BM. Granollers, were eliminated from the Qualification Round in the EHF European League Men, after conceding a loss on their home court against CSM Constanta, with the Romanian side progressing on penalties.
Two German sides, Rhein-Neckar Löwen and Hannover, also qualified, with the groups being completed by Swiss side Pfadi Winterthur and Portuguese side ABC de Braga.
CSM Constanta win 52:51 on aggregate
After a two-goal win in the first leg, last season’s finalists Granollers were boasting a big advantage over CSM Constanta. However, the Romanian side provided a huge challenge, in their third consecutive try to reach the group phase in the second-tier European competition and they duly delivered a game for the ages. Boosted by left wing Valentino Ravnic, who scored four goals, Constanta had a four-goal advantage at the break, 14:10. Granollers bounced back, but missed something in their efficiency, and cut the gap to only two goals, 18:20, at the end of the regular time, pushing the qualification on penalties. There, Constanta converted all penalties, while Granollers missed the first one, as the Spanish side was eliminated from contention.
ABC de Braga win 58:57 on aggregate
By the slightest of margins, ABC de Braga secured a place in the EHF European League Men group phase, after Leonardo Abrahao’s converted penalty was worth its weight in goal, as the Portuguese side navigated excellently in the second half to secure a 29:26 win, which cancelled their 29:31 loss from the first match. Abrahao shined, with eight goals throughout the game, while Trebnje will rue the missed chances - especially the defensive part, where they did not manage to stop ABC in crucial moments, which led to the Portuguese side qualifying for the groups of an European competition for the first time in eight years.
TSV Hannover-Burgdorf (GER) win 63:49 on aggregate
As Ystads IF HF tried to return for the second consecutive season in the group phase of the EHF European League Men, their absences were simply too important and were crucial in their team’s attempts to mount a comeback after a five-goal loss in the first game. Without Kim Andersson, the influential right back who is injured, Ystads hit a brick wall in attack, committing too many turnovers, while their defence leaked too many goals. In the end, Hannover, who had Branko Vujovic and Jonathan Edvardsson scoring five goals each, had a field run in the second half, creating a nine-goal gap, 30:21, which, in turn, helped them seal a 63:49 win on aggregate.
Rhein-Neckar Löwen win 71:58 on aggregate
Four German teams have now qualified for the group phase, with Rhein-Neckar Löwen taking a clear win against Vardar on Sunday afternoon, after having previously secured a nine-goal win in Skopje. Lion Zacharias, Jon Lindenchrone Andersen and Jannik Kohlbacher delivered seven goals each in a clear win for Löwen, who will now face HBC Nantes, IFK Kristanstad and SL Benfica in a very tough and well-balanced group.
Pfadi Winterthur win 44:43 on aggregate
A two-goal loss in the first leg was quickly erased by Pfadi Winterthur, as left back Arsenie Dragasevic proved to be unstoppable, with the Swiss side quickly gaining a strong foothold in the game. As the first half ended with a five-goal lead for Winterthur, the gap grew even bigger, as the Montenegrin back finished the match with seven goals. While they failed to score in the last 19 minutes and 30 seconds, Winterthur sealed a 22:19 win, returning in the group phase after a one-season hiatus, while Aguas Santas will rue the missed chances in the first half, where they could only seal a two-goal win.