Eggert leads Flensburg to their first VELUX EHF FINAL4Article
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MATCH REVIEW: The Skopje thriller was decided only less than 10 seconds before the end, as the Danish winger executed the penalty throw.

Eggert leads Flensburg to their first VELUX EHF FINAL4

Anders Eggert scored the decisive goal in the dying moments of the second quarter-final leg as SG Flensburg Handewitt survived the second half rally of Vardar and clinched their berth at the VELUX EHF FINAL4. As the aggregate score of both legs was a 49:49 draw, the away goals rule had to determine the winners of this tie.

VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-final, second leg:
Vardar Skopje (MKD) vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) 27:25 (10:15)
First leg: 22:24, on aggregate score 49:49, Flensburg won on away goals

After the defeat of only two goals a week ago in Germany, Macedonian champions had a historic opportunity to be the first ever Macedonian club to reach the season highlight event. The pressure was even higher for Raul Gonzales team because this time not only Vardar fans, but the whole nation expected to see them make it to the LANXESS arena.

As expected both teams started the match with tough defence which resulted in number of penalty throws. A week ago Flensburg found solution for one of the best wingers in the world – Timur Dibirov, and today he was the man who opened the score from the seven meter spot, but soon after Eggert scored from the same position and his team took the lead for the first time in this match early in the match.

The German team increased the goal advantage forcing Raul Gonzales to take the first-time out early in the 10th minute. The absence of the Lars Kafuman seemed to be a non-factor for Flensburg in the first half as their backcourt line worked well. They also did a good job in defence in the first half stopping most of the shots coming from Vardar backcourt players.

At the end of the half it resulted in a five-goal advantage of the visitors. The second half started optimistic for Vardar with Toskic scoring the first goal but his opponent on the same position Knudsen responded with two consecutive goals.

Signs of hope for Vardar came after twelve minutes of play in the second half when Macedonian champions thanks to two consecutive goals of Brumen reduced the difference to just one goal. The whole arena was on their feet when Brumen once more scored and equalised the score. Vardar took the lead twelve minutes to go with the fast break goal of Luka Rakovic and Strahinja Milic shut the shop up in the next minutes of the game.

Alex Dujshebaev woke up in the second half scoring two goals increasing the difference and putting the cards in Vardar hands in the last minutes of the match, yet Flensburg managed to regroup in the last two minutes and stole the show.

“We knew it will be very hard to play here. It was a tough game and we had too many mistakes. It was clear to see how much we were tired in the second half as we committed even more mistakes. I have to praise my team that was able to come back in the match," Flensburg coach Ljubomir Vranjes said.

One team must go further and I’m happy that this is my team. I have to say that the audience is amazing here and you should be proud of what you have,“ added Vranjes.

“Thanks to Vardar for the very hard and exiting game. We are extremely happy that we have qualified for the FINAL4. It is a big step for the whole team which makes us very proud and satisfied,” said  Karlsson Tobias.

“My team played good game in which in which we managed to come back. The players gave out much effort but we lacked some luck at the end. Both games were spectacular but this one was special and everyone enjoyed this,“ stated Raul Gonzales at the press conference.

TEXT: Amina Idrizi / br