Granollers, Chambéry advance after thrillersArticle
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QUARTER-FINALS REVIEW: Granollers and Chambéry have completed the lineup for the Men's EHF Cup Finals

Granollers, Chambéry advance after thrillers

While hosts HBC Nantes and German side Frisch Auf Göppingen already knew that they will be part of the Men's EHF Cup Finals on 14-15 May, the two remaining spots have now also been confirmed.

Fraikin BM Granollers from Spain and Chambéry Savoie Handball from France qualified after intense battles on Saturday night.

Granollers lost the second leg of their quarter-final against Bjerringbro-Silkeborg by six goals but they still advances on away goals, while Chambéry overturned a five-goal deficit from their first leg against Saint-Raphael Var Handball.

Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) vs Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP) 32:26 (18:15)
Score on aggregate 56:56, Granollers win on away goals

Having won the first leg at home 30:24, the Spanish team could afford a 32:26 defeat in Denmark and still celebrate their finals berth.

Bjerringbro-Silkeborge were leading by seven goals a couple of times in the second half. And even though the Danish team had the ball in the last 35 seconds, they failed to score the deciding goal.

It only took Silkeborg 16 minutes and 47 seconds to catch up with Granollers’ six-goal lead from the first match as right wing Johan Hansen made it 12:6 for the home team.

However, three fast Granollers goals in succession reduced the difference to three goals, which remained until half-time (18:15).

Granollers had their problems with Silkeborg's Slovenian playmaker Sebastian Skube. But the visitors did not have much trouble scoring enough goals to hang in.

Eight minutes and 50 seconds into the second half, Nikolaj Markussen gave Silkeborg their first seven-goal lead in the match (24:17).

The hosts were also seven up 26:19 but they were not able to keep the lead at this level. As Granollers passed the 24-goal mark from Silkeborg in Spain, Silkeborg needed a seven-goal win at the end but never went further up than six again.

Chambéry Savoie Handball (FRA) vs Saint-Raphael Var Handball (FRA) 29:22 (13:13)
Chambéry win 54:52 on aggregate

After losing by five goals in the first leg, Chambéry knew they had to give 200% against Saint-Raphaël in order to have a chance to qualify for the finals.

But Chambéry was missing too many shots to really threaten its opponent. Fast breaks by Jerko Matulic and Queido Traoré gave the home team a quick lead, 5:2 after 12 minutes, but it soon vanished.

Saint-Raphaël's responded with backcourt goals by Adrien Dipanda and Aurélien Abily. The two were the main players for the away team during the first half while Mihai Popescu was making some important saves.

At half time, both teams were even (13:13) and things didn't look good for Chambéry.

They didn't look any better 15 minutes after both teams came back on the court. The game was harsh with lots of contact and physical involvment and neither side was able to play its best handball.

However, while Chambéry led by only one goal after 46 minutes (21:20), everything changed.

Timothey N'Guessan and Melvyn Richardson finally found their rythm, while Yann Genty, the home-side goalkeeper, was finally living up to expectations. He only conceded just two goals in the last 14 minutes while his team scored eight.

Exploiting the one-man extra situations and seven metres, four minutes before the end of the game Chambéry was virtually qualified on aggregate, before two more goals by Basic - Chambéry's best scorer with six goals - and Richardson definitely sealed the win (29:22).#

Right back Marko Panic was overwhelmed by the victory: "We knew that when we're playing at home, nothing is finished until the final whistle. Nobody probably thought we would be able to qualify 15 minutes from the end of the game, but we never stopped believing. We now have got the chance to write history for our club."

For Saint-Raphaël, Raphaël Caucheteux scored 7 times. He said his team "didn't handle their opportunities well, and that give Chambéry confidence. We are of course very disappointed but hope to come back even stronger in the future."

TEXT: Peter Bruun & Kevin Domas / ew