Eastern sides hope to build on their success in the second legArticle
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KNOCK-OUT PREVIEW: The opponents of the second ranked teams from Groups A and B will be determined on Saturday in Belarus and Ukraine.

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Eastern sides hope to build on their success in the second leg

The two top teams of Group C and D will meet for their second leg of the knock-out round this weekend, and the winners will advance to the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16, where they face the second ranked teams of Groups A and B.

In the first leg, Ukraine's Motor Zaporozhye managed to beat Spanish powerhouse La Rioja on the road — 31:30, while Belarusian HC Meshkov Brest earned a draw at  Denmark's Skjern (31:31). Now both Eastern European sides want to build on their success at home, while their opponents harbor hopes to change the situation.

VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase Knock-out – Group C+D Play-Off, second leg
HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) vs Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP)
Saturday 5 March, 18.30 local time, live on ehftv.com

The game in Logrono was the first ever meeting of these teams in a European competition. The second match will be held in Brovary, a suburb of Kiev, at the Terminal sports center.

La Rioja were considered favourites at home, but could not live up to the expectations. As both teams prefer attacking handball, no wonder that the Spanish spectators witnessed quite a lot of goals.

"The game was open, but thanks to the quality of our players and also some luck we managed to win," said the head coach of Motor Nikolay Stepanets.

The hero of the day was Barys Pukhouski, a Belarusian center back who scored 10 goals for Motor. He hopes that the home ground will give his team an advantage in the second game.

"We are not going to relax. I expect the same kind of game as in Spain. Everything may be decided in the last 5-7 minutes. La Rioja will obviously feel pressure, they have nothing to lose. But we hope on our fans' support. We have never lost in Brovary and are looking forward to another victory," he said.

HC Meshkov Brest (BLR) vs Skjern Handbold (DEN)
Saturday 5 March, 19.00 local time, live on ehftv.com

Just like their Ukrainian neighbors, HC Meshkov Brest scored 31 goals in the away match, but conceded exactly the same amount. Still, a draw is a good result for the Eastern Europeans, especially given the fact that their road to Skjern was long and exhausting.

Because of bad weather conditions, the Belarusian champions could not fly directly from Brest and had to travel 350 km to Minsk before finally taking off.

Now Brest do not need to travel, they play at home and definitely have an edge. "We showed our character in Denmark and could have earned a victory there. However, I am satisfied with the draw. In Brest, we will start from zero and will do our best in order to win," said the head coach of HC Meshkov Sergey Bebeshko.

His adversary Ole Norgaard was disappointed, yet he continues to believe in his team's chances.

"It will be a tough game. We need to show our maximal strength if we want to advance. Brest were obviously happy with the result in Skjern, they almost stand with one foot at the next round. But we will try our best," said the Dane.

TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / br