Hamburg return to VELUX EHF FINAL4Article
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HSV clinch their berth for Cologne despite home defeat in the second quarter-final against SG Flensburg-Handewitt

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Hamburg return to VELUX EHF FINAL4

They were shaken and intermediately even virtually eliminated by SG Flensburg-Handewitt, but in the end HSV Hamburg booked their ticket to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 for the second time in the club history after 2011 as fourth and final team of this season. Finally the six goal base from the first leg was huge enough so that even a 23:25 home defeat did not stop the “train to Cologne”.

Earlier this weekend THW Kiel, FC Barcelona and Vive Targi Kielce qualified for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 to be played 1 and 2 June in Cologne.

HSV Hamburg (GER) vs. SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) 23:25 (10:13) – first leg: 32:26

Only at the final buzzer HSV coach Martin Schwalb took a deep breath before the celebration could start. Schwalb knew that his team was highly close to elimination from the season’s highlighter. Like in the first leg, when Flensburg was dominant until minute 45, before an intermediate 10:1 series secured the clear 32:26 away victory, SG were highly close to turn the quarter-finals around completely.

From the first minute on, Flensburg seemed to be more focused, and like in their Last 16 home defeat against Celje, Hamburg were below par. The guest team extended the gap slowly but determined to three goals at the break – as they could count on a world class performance of their goalkeeper Mattias Andersson, who in total saved 20 HSV shots.

One thought Hamburg could reach their regular level in the second half was wrong. Flensburg still had full control of the match, but caused too many technical mistakes to outdistance their opponent even earlier.

Schwalb’s time-out at the score of 14:19 did not grant wings to his players, in contrast: Led by wing player Anders Eggert (six goals in total) and right back Steffen Weinhold (5), Flensburg marched forward, recognizing that the track to Cologne was still visible.

12 minutes before the end, the distance were six goals for the first time at 15:21, and only two minutes later, Flensburg virtually were part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4, leading by 23:16. Hamburg has lost their pace completely – but exactly in this “crunch time” Flensburg missed six consecutive chances, which might had decided the match and did not score for five minutes.

Now HSV goalkeeper Johannes Bitter improved and his teammates cheated the gallows. A double strike of VELUX EHF Champions league top scorer Hans Lindberg for 20:23 in minute 55 paved the way to the LANXESS Arena, the last Flensburg sign of life were two goals to 25:20, but then again Lindberg decided the match with his sixth and last goal for 22:25, having 88 strikes on his tally now.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br