Heart-stopping drama sets up sets up final day showdown for Sporting and SävehofArticle
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GROUP C REVIEW: Goals in the final second from Irun and Sävehof ensure that everything is still to play for in the final round between the Swedish champions and Sporting

Heart-stopping drama sets up sets up final day showdown for Sporting and Sävehof

Saturday’s VELUX EHF Champions League group C encounters could not have been more dramatic if they were scripted, as a draw between Irun and Sporting and a one-goal win for Sävehof were both decided with the very last throw of the game.

The results mean that Sporting CP and IK Sävehof are level in second place on 12 points ahead of their final round meeting, while Bidasoa Irun are guaranteed first spot

  • Sporting host Sävehof on Saturday 30 November to decide who will join Irun in the knockout round
  • Both matches were level 16:16 at half-time and both results were decided by the final throw of the game
  • Frankis Carol stars for Sporting with 10 goals, but the last laugh goes to Kauldi Odriozola and Irun who claim top spot with a draw
  • William Bogojevic rescues Sävehof’s hopes with 12 goals, the last of which was the match-winning penalty

Bidasoa Irun (ESP) vs Sporting CP (POR) 32:32 (16:16)

With progression from the group assured, Irun could be forgiven for coming into this clash with an air of confidence. That however, was swiftly knocked out of them as Sporting raced into a 3:0 lead within the opening three minutes.

Frankis Carol was in particularly good form for the hosts in the early exchanges, firing in four of his side’s first six goals, but as he began to miss chances, Irun seized control.

A 4:0 run midway through the half turned the game on its head and put the hosts in command. Bidasoa appeared to be running away with the contest as they went 14:10 ahead with eight minutes left in the first half, but with so much to play for, Sporting found another gear and brought themselves level at the break, 16:16.

Carol picked up where he left off in the first half with two goals in quick succession handing his side a 21:19 lead with just under 20 minutes left to play.

Time and time again, Irun have displayed a brilliant ability to turn tricky situations around and avoid defeat and here they refused to lie down, with Kauldi Odriozola tearing through the Sporting defence twice to draw level in the final quarter.

A penalty save from 20-year-old Manuel Gaspar proved crucial as Sporting finally went two goals ahead with two minutes left to play. It appeared a bridge too far for Bidasoa, but once again they clawed a result from the jaws of defeat with Kauldi Odriozola’s stunning buzzer-beating equaliser.

Odriozola paid tribute to his team's resolve: “Today’s match was decided at the last second. The game was tough, but we didn't give up at any time. We earned a very valuable point that gives us first place, and keeps us undefeated in the VELUX EHF Champions League.”

IK Sävehof (SWE) vs Tatran Presov (SVK) 30:29 (16:16)

Sävehof’s solid defence and incisive counter-attacking tore Presov apart in the reverse fixture, but that is not the Sävehof we have seen of late.

And so this contest began far too close for comfort for the hosts, who felt a victory was a must if they wished to progress to the knockout round.

Left back William Bogojevic began the game in fine form, scoring early and often as the Swedish champions opened a lead, but five goals from Presov’s Titouan Afanou Gatine inspired them to a lead late in the first half, before Sävehof pulled level 16:16 at half-time.

After a slow start to the second half, Sävehof’s defence and goalkeeper Agust Eli Björgvinsson stepped up to help them to a 5:1 run and a 22:20 lead.

This day was clearly all about William Bogojevic, however, as Presov found no way to stop the 22-year-old Swede from scoring at will and keeping his side’s noses in front.

Having drawn level again, a reckless challenge from Presov’s Oliver Rabek resulted in a direct red card. It did not have an adverse effect on the Slovakian champions as they stayed in the hunt right until the final buzzer.

But Presov received another red card, this time Janus Lapajne was penalised for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity in the final seconds. The resulting penalty was scored by no other than Bogojevic himself.

The match-winner spoke of how tough the game was: "It was tight until the end and I think we did a great job. We have a lot of big players injured and a lot of new players got the chance to play today. In the end we won, and I’m glad".

That win sets Sävehof up for a mouthwatering final round clash on Saturday 30 November in Lisbon against Sporting, to decide who will join Irun in the group’s top two.

TEXT: Chris O'Reilly / tm