Veszprém, Skopje and Flensburg make their wayArticle
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Three home victories in the second leg of the Last 16 on Saturday – Metalurg write history

»EHF CL Channel »2012-13 Men's News

Veszprém, Skopje and Flensburg make their way

Two well-known faces and a debutant have clinched their berth for the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finals on Saturday: After HSV Hamburg had qualified on Thursday, Flensburg are the second German club to make their way, and MKB Veszprém easily proceeded against León. 7500 fans in Skopje were part of writing history: As first Macedonian team ever Metalurg are among the best eight teams of the flagship club competition after beating Minsk for the second time.

So currently only teams, which had finished the Group Phase as winners or second ranked teams, have qualified for the quarter-finals. Veszprém and Hamburg will be in Pot 1 of the draw on Tuesday, as Metalurg and Flensburg are in Pot 2.

Last 16, second leg:

HC Metalurg (MKD) vs. HC Dinamo Minsk (BLR) 24:22 (11:12)

After their pre-decisive 26:23 away victory in Minsk, Metalurg sealed the deal on home ground to qualify for the quarter-finals. After 2011, when the wild card tournament winner Rhein Neckar Löwen proceeded to this stage, Metalurg are aside the first team to be among the top eight, which had to go all the way through qualification.

The “most important club handball match on Macedonian  ground ever”, as it was written before the second leg, was again a defence battle with constantly changing leads – like it had been in the first encounter in Minsk. Both teams were nervous and caused a lot of mistakes in the opening stage. When leading 8:7, Skopje missed several chances to go ahead by two goals for the first time – and Minsk score twice to be in lead 9:8.

And the Belarusian team were not impressed by the brilliant and frenetic atmosphere in the sold-out arena, in contrast: The team of coach Sergji Bebeshko was cold as ice in attack and waited patiently in attack, where to find a gap in the solid rock Metalurg defence.

The 12:10 was the first two goal lead of the guest, who even missed the chance to forge ahead clearer. But Metalurg’s coaching legend Lino Červar had the right means and tactics to turn the match around. In only five minutes after the break his players scored a 5:2 series to be away 16:14, causing an early Minsk time-out.

Though they were below by three goals intermediately, the Belarusian side did not surrender, but when Filip Mirkulovski scored for the 21:18, their fate seemed to be sealed, especially when Naumče Mojsovski extended the gap to 22:18. Knowing they are on the winner’s way, Metalurg lacked concentration, and Minsk returned, reducing to 22:23 with 90 seconds on the clock. But scoring the final goal, Metalurg made their fans go crazy by winning this intense defence battle too and started their dance on the court.

MKB Veszprém KC (HUN) vs. Reale Ademar Leon (ESP) 33:25 (15:14)

Finally the revenge was a clear matter: After MKB Veszprém had been eliminated by Ademar León in the Last 16 of the previous season, the Hungarian champions made it to the quarter-finals one year later. After the 23:20 away victory in Spain, László Nagy & Co. had full control of the rematch on home ground for 60 minutes. For MKB it is the first VELUX EHF Champions League quarter-final participation since 2010.

Veszprém started with a clear 7:3 advantage, but then León woke up, first reduced to 6:8 and were close to turn the match at the break after four straight goals from 10:15 to 14:15.

Spanish MKB coach Carlos Ortega found the right word in the dressing room, as his team forged ahead to 20:16 and latest had decided the re-match at 25:19, when Leon coach Manuel Cadenas took his time-out.

But nothing changed, in contrast: Veszprém even increased the gap to seven goals for the first time at 28:21. “We started well, but when León improved, we had problems,” said Carlos Ortega: “But finally we were away by eight.” Cadenas was satisfied despite the defeat: “Veszprém play a brilliant season, but we played well in both matches.” Veszprém player Péter Gulyás now hopes for a perfect draw for the quarter-finals and: “We will give all we can to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne for the first time.”

Top scorers were two Spaniards: Cristian Ugalde scored seven times for Veszprém, Carlos Ruesga eight times for León.

SG Flensburg-Handewitt  (GER) vs. Gorenje Velenje (SLO)  27:25 (13:14)

For the seventh time in their club history, SG Flensburg-Handewitt  have reached the quarter-finals of the VELUX EHF Champions League – but to proceed in the 2012/13 season was much harder than expected. Despite the 28:25 victory in the first leg, the German side were not as dominating as expected, as Gorenje Velenje showed a brilliant performance and fought bravely until minute 57. Intermediately they had leveled the three goal deficit from the first leg, but the red card against their top scorer Clemen Cehte ten minutes before the end broke their resistance.

“Velenje showed an outstanding performance, the match was open until the end, but now we are happy to be in the quarter-finals. Though they had travelled by bus they had more freshness than us. It was really tough to win,” said line player Jakob Heinl.

Top scorer Holger Glandorf (nine goals), who will play the first ever VELUX EHF Champions League quarter-final in his long career, added on Eurosport: “We invited Velenje to score before the break, as we caused too many mistakes. But after the break we improved in defence and were cleverer in attack. Now we want to go to Cologne.”

Velenje played with confidence and without pressure – and pulled Flensburg’s teeth very early. The German side did not find their usual rhythm in attack and lacked mobility in defence. Especially right back Jure Dolenec was unstoppable in the beginning. When the Slovenians were away by 9:7, SG coach Ljubomir Vranjes took his early time-out and changed his back court axis completely. But except Holger Glandorf the host was unlucky in shooting.

In a tough match with more fighting spirit than glamour Flensburg equalized at 11:11, mostly thanks to goalkeeper Mattias Andersson, who in the end of the first half was the reason, why the deficit was only one goal at 14:15.

One thought the match would change after the break, was wrong: Velenje fought for every centimetre – and after only two minutes they had “equalized” the aggregate result at 16:13.

But with an improving defence and a powerful Glandorf Flensburg again took the lead after four straight goals at 17:16, but could not outdistance their opponent, in contrast: Velenje remained ahead. As Dolenec was defended much tougher, Clemen Cehte took the responsibility in this stage. But after his eighth goal, Cehte had to leave the court earlier than his team mates with a direct red card after hitting Heinl in the face in minute 50 at the score of 23:23.

And from that moment on, Velenje – without another important alternative – lacked power, as Flensburg could rotate on a higher level. When Michael Knudsen scored the 26:25 three minutes before the end, it was “game over” for the brave fighting Slovenians, who resigned in the final minutes, knowing that again the Last 16 was the final stage for them.

The Last 16 will be finalized on Sunday with the matches THW Kiel (GER) vs. Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS), FC Barcelona Intersport (ESP) vs. Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) , KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL) vs. Pick Szeged (HUN) and the Match of the Week Füchse Berlin (GER) vs. BM Atletico Madrid (ESP).

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br