No walk in the park, but Szeged throughArticle
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MATCH REVIEW: The Hungarians prove to be too strong for the plucky Sporting, who stayed in the hunt for Berlin until the final quarter

No walk in the park, but Szeged through 

Pick Szeged overturned their two-goal deficit from the first leg and head to Berlin thanks to their 28:22 victory over Sporting CP. The Hungarian runners-up were superior but the Portugese fought hard and managed to stay in the game until the very end.

EHF Cup Quarter-finals, second leg
Pick Szeged vs. Sporting CP 28:22

Aggregate: 55:51

Mindegía ran the show

Although Sporting CP was heavily considered to be an underdog against Pick Szeged, the Portugese were desperate to show their 29:27 victory at home was not a one- off. Pick took the lead with goals from playmaker Niko Mindegía but Sporting equalised in the 12th minute and looked determined not to let Szeged enjoy a walk in the park.

The Portugese had some problems when facing a solid Pick wall but immediately took advantage of the home side’s errors just like they did in the first leg. Sporting managed to stay in the game until Pick took a convincing six-goal lead by the end of the first half, thanks to the magnificent display of Mindegía.

Szeged in firm control

Sporting fought well in the second half and managed to keep Szeged on a leash as long as the visitors had enough fuel in the tank, but when Pick’s Roland Mikler started saving shots from all angles, Sporting started to lose faith.

It was not difficult to tell which team was better, but 15 minutes from the end, the Portugese only needed two goals to advance to the EHF Cup Finals in Berlin, as Pick could not lose their opponents. However, Szeged took firm control over the game in the last stage and there was no hope left for the visitors to get closer than 4-5 goals, which meant Juan Carlos Pastor led his team through.

Next stop: Berlin

Juan Carlos Pastor claimed the most important thing was the finals and his team’s performance was enough to reach their goal. "We could have played better, but managed to stop the fast running Portugese and that was of utmost importance. We started well and led all the way, which put us at ease. I don’t care who we will come up against in the semi-final because if you want to win you have to beat everybody.

Roland Mikler put up a great performance in Szeged’s goal: "We lost as a team last week, now we won as a team. I don’t care much about our performance, we are going to Berlin and that’s all that counts now.”

Pick team captain Attila Vadkerti was happy that Pick will enter their first major finals: "The only important thing was to get to Berlin. We succeeded so I’m happy with the team.”

TEXT: Bence Martha / cor