Skanderborg-Aarhus proceed as Aguas Santas surprise
Skanderborg-Aarhus are the second team in group D to qualify for the EHF European League Men Last 16, after Füchse Berlin. The Danish side took their fifth victory on Tuesday by beating HC Eurofarm Pelister. While Berlin kept their clean record against Motor Zaporozhye, Aguas Santas were the surprise pack in round 7 — the Portuguese side took their first win the group phase, against Bidasoa Irun.
Skanderborg-Aarhus (DEN) vs HC Eurofarm Pelister (MKD) 24:22 (11:11)
The final result and the half-time score do not reflect the clear dominance of Skanderborg-Aarhus in crunchtime. After the Macedonian team had been ahead almost the whole first half, the hosts turned the tide in the first 15 minutes after the break. Thanks to the (in total 13) saves of goalkeeper Salah Boutaf and a classic Scandinavian counter-attack strategy, the European cup debutants decided the match with a 10:2 run for the score of 21:13 in minute 46.
Lars Moussing’s goal for 24:18 in minute 54 was the last strike from the hosts. The visitors — coached by Dane Lars Walther — scored four times, but time was ticking against them. Eurofarm’s Danish back Sebastian Henneberg did not have his best day, scoring one goal from six attempts, while Skanderborg’s Morten Balling was top scorer of the match with seven strikes. While the Danish team clinched their Last 16 berth, the Bitola-based team remain fourth ranked with five points.
I am happy that we — in the second half of the match — could step up, which shows us that, when we are under pressure, we are still able to find some extra power and play some great handball. Overall, I am happy with two points and now we have 10 points in the European League, which of course is fine, but we need to step up our game.
Füchse Berlin (GER) vs HC Motor (UKR) 32:24 (18:10)
Füchse kept their clean record with their seventh victory, while Motor back Ihor Turchenko remains on top of the season’s overall scorer list with now 57 goals. But even his 12 goals were not enough to endanger Berlin on Tuesday.
The German side were boosted by 11 saves from goalkeeper Dejan Milosavljev in the first half, which were the key for the decisive 18:10 lead at the break, then by the overall 11 goals from newly crowned Danish world champions Jacob Holm. After their first and only double-figure advantage at 20:10, Berlin decelerated, coach Jaron Siewert gave playing time to his young guns, and Max Beneke paid him back with five goals.
Motor remain on three points, but the gap to Eurofarm Pelister in fourth position is still only two points.
Aguas Santas Milaneza (POR) vs Bidasoa Irun (ESP) 28:25 (14:14)
One draw (against Motor) was Aguas Santas’ only positive outcome in the first six rounds. On Tuesday night, the Portuguese side struck against Bidasoa Irun.
Afonso Vilhena, Joao Pedro Morais and Francisco Magalhaes scored six goals each and goalkeeper Alexandre Carvalho saved 13 shots for the victorious hosts, who were ahead only twice in the first half. Aguas Santas gained their first advantage after the break minute 49 — but from the score of 23:22 on, the Portuguese side did not let the lead slip in a defence-orientated match.
When Vilhena netted for 27:24 and Irun missed their next two chances, the first win for the home team was sealed. With three points in their account, Aguas Santas are equal with Motor, while Irun (still on seven points) missed a huge step towards the knockout stage.
Photos: Aarhus: Ole Nielsen / Milaneza: Porfírio Ferreira / Berlin: Foto Laechler