Minsk and Constanta out of raceArticle
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Ciudad Real group winners after victory in Romania, Schaffhausen already qualified for the Last 16.

Minsk and Constanta out of race

The next three decisions haven been taken in the final round of the VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League: Renovalia Ciudad Real are the winners of Group D after a 34:25 victory in Constanta. Due to this result the Romanians are out of the race for the Last 16.

Dinamo Minsk share this fate: Despite a strong performance against group winners Chekhovskie Medvedi they only tied. This means that Kadetten Schaffhausen are the lucky winners before their final match in Valladolid, and qualify as 14th team for the knock-out stage.

Group C:

Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) vs. Dinamo Minsk (BLR) 28:28 (15:14)

A bitter end for Dinamo Minsk: Four seconds were missing to keep the dream of the Belarusian champions alive, but at 59:56 minutes Chekhovskie equalized to the final score of 28:28. With that result Minsk can not qualify the Last 16 – and thanks to this result Kadetten Schaffhausen are already qualified for the knock-out stage.

The whole match was filled with tension and fights. Medvedi was already known as group winner before, so the Russians had not been under pressure against their brave fighting neighbour from Minsk. In the very beginning Dinamo caused many mistakes in attack and Chekhovski increased their lead to 8:5. But in the last five minutes of the first half the powerful Belarusians found their pace and equalized for the first time at the 13:13. They were on the same level, even as the “Russian Bears” led at the break.

Thanks to Barys Pukhouski Minsk took the lead for the first time at 17:16 and kept it until the 23:22. Then Chekhov fought back, but had unusual problems in defense. Although they turned the game and seemed to be on the winner’s path at the 27:25. But knowing it was their last chance Minsk stood brave. Dzianis Rutenka reduced to 27:26, then Pavel Atman equalized one minute before the end. Chekhov lost the ball, Rutenka took advantage and hit the back of the net -28:27 for Minsk. But in the end Chekhov scored the last and decisive goal. CL debutant Minsk was absolutely disappointed – despite finishing their first season with a great series of 6 points from the last four matches.

Group D:

HCM Constanta (ROU) vs. Renovalia Ciudad Real (ESP) 25:34 (10:15)

Again goalkeeper Arpad Sterbik was match winner for Renovalia Ciudad Real. The Spaniards could count on Sterbik and their defense but had to break a much bigger resistance than they might have expected. Constanta fought hard for their last chance and were on eye level until minute 20 at the score of 5:6. After the 7:9 Ciudad Real extended the gap to a five goal distance at the break.

As Sterbik shut the gate at the start of the second half, Constanta missed several 100 percent chances and the Spaniards again got away to 21:15 in minute 43 and 25:19 in minute 48.

Constanta did not give up – but every time they had the chance to make a step towards the equalizer Sterbik stood in their way. And then the run-down was always the same: counter attack, goal Ciudad. In this period they scored mostly by the wing players Davis and Källman.

Eight minutes before the end the Spaniards had decided the game at the score of 29:20 – and kept their favourite role until the end. Thanks to this result Ciudad secured the group victory one point ahead of Flensburg.

Both currently known group winners - Chekhovskie Medvedi and Renovalia Ciudad Real - were part of the EHF FINAL4 in Cologne in 2010.

The fourth participant for the Last 16 of group D will be decided in the final group match Zagreb against St. Petersburg. If Zagreb win, Bosna Sarajevo will take the fourth place, in case of a draw or a Russian victory, St. Petersburg is through to the Last 16.

TEXT: Björn Pazen