Magdeburg in the quarter-finals, three teams close inArticle
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Full tension after penultimate round in groups A and C of the Men’s EHF Cup – Koper out

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Magdeburg in the quarter-finals, three teams close in

Former EHF Champions League winner SC Magdeburg are the first to qualify for the Men’s EHF Cup quarter-finals. Thanks to their clear away victory at Istanbul, the German side secured the first position in Group D.

Göppingen and La Rioja in group A and Rhein Necker Löwen in Group B made huge steps towards the knock-out stage, as Cimos Koper are out. Group C remains in the balance before the last round, as Maribor (7 points), Holstebro and Plock (each 6 points) still can clinch their berth for the quarter-finals.

And everything will depend on, whether HBC Nantes will finish among the three best second ranked teams. If yes, only the two best second ranked teams will play in the then three quarter-finals.

Group A:

Frisch Auf Göppingen and Naturhouse La Rioja top the table by eight points each after their victories in Round 5 before their final clash on German ground next Saturday. Both will finish on first and second position, depending on the result of their direct encounter. La Rioja won the first leg 25:23.

Due to the defeat in Spain 2012 VELUX EHF Champions League quarter-finallist RK Cimos Koper are out of the race for the quarter-finals of the EHF Cup, remaining four points below the top duo.

Eskilstuna Guif (SWE) vs. Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER) 25:31 (12:17)

The host started better and were up 8:5, before Göppingen coach Velimir Petkovic threw his green card on the officials’ table. His players understood his words, the Germans equalized at 9:9, took the lead at 11:10 – and then did not give it from their hands until the final whistle. Thanks to five straight goals they forged ahead to 16:11 and kept this margin until the break.

Boosted by brilliant goalkeeper Bastian Rutschmann (in total 18 saves) and eight goals of Zarko Markovic, Göppingen easily dominated the match after the break. Latest at the 24:17 the victors was confirmed.

Helge Freimann and Daniel Petterson were the Guif top scorers by five goals each. The Swedish team, which had lost the first leg by 26:37 and again had to replace their top player Matthias Zachrisson, still wait for their first point in the Group Phase.

Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP) vs. RK Cimos Koper (SLO) 35:28 (19:14)

Naturhouse La Rioja showed one of their strongest performances in the current season, taking revenge for the 21:25 defeat at Koper and eliminating their opponents from the knock-out stage. The Slovenians were completely overrun in the first 26 minutes, when the Spaniards had forged ahead to a decisive 18:10 lead. Though Koper managed to reduce the deficit to 14:19 at the break, they were second best against Naturhouse. Even the ten goals of Osmajic could not prevent Koper from their elimination, as on the other side Capote scored eight times.

Intermediately La Rioja were away by ten goals at 31:21, as the Slovenians had surrendered. 

The fixtures of Round 6:

RK Cimos Koper vs. SWE Eskilstuna Guif

Frisch Auf Göppingen vs. Naturhouse La Rioja

Group B:

Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) vs. TATRAN Presov (SVK)  36:20 (21:10)

Rhein Neckar Löwen have at least reached the second rank in their group one round before the end. If KIF Kolding – unexpectedly – will lose their match on Sunday against Zaporozhye, the Germans would already be confirmed group winner. If Löwen are equal with Kolding in the end, the Germans are ahead, as they had won the direct encounter against the Danes.

After a highly close and lucky 34:33 victory at Presov in the first leg, Löwen showed their real face on home ground, securing their fourth victory in their fifth match in a clear and dominant way.

Löwen coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson was highly satisfied.

"We played brilliant in defence and attack and could count on a strong goalkeeping. We played highly professional for 60 minutes.”

"We caused too many easy  mistakes, those broke our neck very early,” counterpart, TATRAN coach Roman Lamac said.

Presov were close only until the 7:5, then Löwen improved their solid rock defence and stopped the Slovak attacks. The result were recise counter attacks and a ten goal margin even before the break.

Presov resigned, while Löwen kept their rhythm and speed in the second half. Ten minutes before the end, the margin had increased to 14 goals at 29:15, at the final whistle Löwen were ahead by 16 goals. Andy Schmid and Stefan Sigurmannsson scored seven goals each for the victors, while Dominik Krok netted in five times for the Slovaks, who are out of the race for the quarter-finals, if Kolding at least ties with Zaporozhye on Sunday.

The only bad news for Löwen was the knee injury of youngster Marius Steinhauser two minutes before the end.

The fixtures of Round 6:

HC Motor Zaporozhye vs. Rhein-Neckar Löwen

TATRAN Presov vs. KIF Kolding

Group C:

Round 6 will be a double thriller to decide which team(s) make their way to the quarter-finals. After beating Holstebro in the direct duel, Maribor are the new table toppers by 7 points and have their final match on Saturday at Elverum (1 point). Wisla Plock and Holstebro face in the direct duel on Sunday – and before that, both are equal on 6 points.

If Maribor lose and the match Holstebro vs. Plock ends with a draw, all teams have seven points on their account and an internal ranking must decide. If Maribor win at Norway, they will secure the first position, regardless the result in Denmark.

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs. Elverum Handball Herrer (NOR)  30:25 (17:14)

The “Oilers” are back in the race for the quarter-final: One week after winning the “do-or-die” match against Branik Maribor the Polish runners-up expectedly beat Norwegian side Elverum. With six points on their account now, Orlen Wisla Plock have the fate in their hands in their final Group Match at Holstebro next weekend.

But the hurdle against Elverum (remaining by only one point after five matches) was higher than expected. Plock were in lead constantly except the 5:6 in the opening stage, but could not outdistance their opponent early.

After an intermediate 16:11 lead, Elverum reduced to three goals at the break and even did not give up, when the host again forged ahead to 20:15, but were on eye level again at 22:20 and 24:22 in minute 48. Thanks to 6:2 series, finished by Valentin Ghionnea for 30:24 the crucial victory was secured. Another key to success were the 14 saves of goalkeeper Marin Sego.

Kamil Syprzak (8 for Wisla) and Andre Lindboe (9 for Elverum) were the top scorers of the match.

Wisla coach Lars Walther was not satisfied with the defence in the first half, but: “In the second half we improved, but still missed too many shots. We played very nervous today. I am happy with a five goals win, but we have to do a better job in Denmark next week.”

Despite the defeat Elverum coach Cristian Berge was “pretty satisfied, We played a fairly good game. We were close to two goals but my team is not so as experienced as Wisla, and due to this fact we lost this game. We will play the final of the Norwegian Championship on Wednesday, so our heads was absorbed by this game.”

Wisla top star Nikola Eklemović is already calculating: “Counting is simple – we have to go Denmark to win and we will do everything to do this on next Sunday.”

RK Maribor Branik (SLO) vs. Team Tvis Holstebro (DEN) 31:27 (14:12)

After the 26:26 draw in the first leg, the re-match in Slovenia was fully equal again. The quite clear final result does not reflect the run-down of the match, as Maribor were in lead most of the time, but Holstebro was close until the last two minutes.

The distance was not higher than two goals until minute 58, then some great saves of Maribor goalkeeper Ivan Pesic finally decided the match. Thanks to a double strike from 28:26 to 30:26 Maribor took the victory against a strong Danish side.

The fixtures of Round 6:

Elverum Handball Herrer vs. RK Maribor Branik

Team Tvis Holstebro vs. Orlen Wisla Plock

Group D:

Besiktas JK (TUR) vs. SC Magdeburg (GER) 17:27 (9:10)

SC Magdeburg have secured the first position in Group D and remained unbeaten with now four victories and a one draw. The German team easily took the points at Istanbul to be the first team to clinch their berth for the quarter-finals.

After the 33:18 victory in the first leg, Magdeburg only had problems in the first half, when Besiktas was down by only one goal. But thanks to the goals of their youngster Matthias Musche (7) and Tim Hornke (5) and an improvement of the defence, SCM forged ahead without problems and extended the margin goal by goal after the early decision at 15:11.

Viktor Ladyko, Tolga Özbahar and Ramazan Döne scored four goals each for Istanbul. After their first defeat on ground after years in an international match, the Turkish champions are out for the quarter-finals remaining by only two points.

If HBC Nantes (FRA) beat Stiinta Municipal Dedeman Bacau (ROU) on Sunday, the host of EHF Cup Finals will secure the second rank in this group already before the last Round. But whether they qualify directly for the EHF Cup Finals or have to play the quarter-finals will be decided  next weekend.

Nantes would directly qualify if they finish among the three best second ranked teams, concerning the results reached against the first and third ranked teams. In this case only three quarter-finals with the four group winners and the two best second ranked teams will be played. If Nantes are the fourth best second ranked team, they will have to play in the quarter-finals. In this case, four fixtures of the four group winners and the four second ranked teams will be played.

The fixtures of Round 6:

Besiktas JK vs. HBC Nantes

Stiinta Municipal Dedeman Bacau vs. SC Magdeburg

TEXT: Björn Pazen