SUMMARY: Newcomers GOG, Plock join Kiel, Veszprém in quarter-finals
The quarter-final lineup of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League 2022/23 was confirmed Thursday with the completion of the play-offs. The teams advancing are Orlen Wisla Plock, who beat HBC Nantes in a shootout in a dramatic Match of the Week on Wednesday, and fellow quarter-final debutants GOG, as well as experienced sides Telekom Veszprém HC and THW Kiel.
- second leg of the play-offs in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League 2022/23
- - MOTW HBC Nantes vs Orlen Wisla Plock 29:30 after shootout / 61:62 on aggr. -> QF Plock vs Magdeburg
- GOG vs Aalborg Håndbold 32:24 / 60:54 on aggr. -> QF GOG vs Barça
- Telekom Veszprém HC vs OTP Bank - Pick Szeged 38:33 / 74:56 on aggr. -> QF Veszprém vs Kielce
- THW Kiel vs CS Dinamo Bucuresti 31:32 / 72:60 on aggr. -> QF Kiel vs PSG
- highlights of all play-off matches on the Home of Handball YouTube channel
- reporting by Eric Willemsen; photos courtesy of Lau Nielsen (GOG vs Aalborg), Roland Peka (Veszprém vs Szeged), Jean Le Boulanger (MOTW Nantes vs Plock), and Sascha Klahn (Kiel vs Dinamo)
Thursday 30 March 2023
Goodbye play-offs, hello quarter-finals!
We have witnessed eight intense play-off matches last week and this week, which have reduced the number of teams left in the race for the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4 2023 from 12 to eight. And since the group phase standings determine the quarter-final pairings, we don't need a draw.
So, this is the confirmed lineup for the quarter-finals:
- THW Kiel vs Paris Saint-Germain HB
- Orlen Wisla Plock vs SC Magdeburg
- Telekom Veszprém HC vs Industria Kielce
- GOG vs Barça
The Machineseeker EHF Champions League now heads into a six-week break, as the first leg of the quarter-finals is scheduled for 10/11 May, and the second leg for 17/18 May. The playing schedule will be announced in due time.
For now, thanks again for joining us on the live blog! Have a great night and flip through the best pictures from the evening in our gallery:
What a finish to the play-offs! This Danish derby was always going to deliver, and it truly lived up to expectations tonight. Read what happened at GOG vs Aalborg in the match review from EHF journalist Kevin Domas:
Four play-off ties, four impressive winners: Kiel and Veszprém, who both had stunning 13-goal away victories; Plock who won the most dramatic of all matches in a shootout; and GOG, who rose to the occasion in the Danish derby.
Here is our poll: which of those four teams was the most impressive team for you?
With GOG advancing, the quarter-finalists are now all confirmed!
Three of the four teams that ended the play-offs with a home match have made it through to the quarter-finals: Kiel and Veszprém started with big away wins, but GOG had to come back from two goals down after the first leg.
The only exception are Nantes, who went down in their own arena after a shootout against Plock.
- Kiel vs PSG
- Plock vs Magdeburg
- Veszprém vs Kielce
- GOG vs Barça
Matches on 10/11 and 17/18 May.
22:21 RESULT | GOG vs Aalborg 32:24 (15:11)
> GOG WIN 60:54 ON AGGREGATE, PLAY Barça IN QUARTER-FINALS
They have done it! GOG complete their comeback against fellow Danish rivals Aalborg with an eight-goal win to enter their first quarter-final in the EHF Champions League.
Team timeout GOG. They lead Aalborg 27:22, that makes an overall difference of +3, with less than seven minutes on the clock. That quarter-final (against Barça!) is coming closer and closer and closer...
If things are going your way, they are going your way...
Can you believe it? GOG just keep going and now lead Aalborg 24:16, more than enough to wipe out that two-goal defeat from last week.
Here is a significant stat regarding shot efficiency that tells a lot about the current scoreline:
Missing the experienced Morten Olsen does not harm GOG right away; they even extend their lead to five goals: 21:16.
Here is a stunner from a bit earlier:
Ohhh, red card Morten Olsen for fouling Aalborg's Mads Hoxer (who still scores...)! Could that become a turning point in this match?
Same picture for the beginning of the second half: GOG remain in the lead by four: 18:14, at the moment. That would be enough for a place in the quarter-finals – their first in Europe's top flight...
In the end, every single save can be decisive:
21:27 HALF-TIME | GOG vs Aalborg 15:11
Are GOG on their way to the quarter-finals? They have turned the two-goal deficit from the first leg into a two-goal lead, with 30 minutes left. This is still very much open, with 2021 finalists Aalborg expected to give it their all again in the second half.
Emil Madsen with five the leading scorer, his GOG teammate Simon Pytlick and Aalborg's Felix Claar with four each.
Aalborg have already been six goals down, but they don't give in that easily. This goal has helped them close the gap. Meanwhile it is 13:10 for GOG; you feel this is going to be another close affair!
Playing Szeged is never a formality, but Veszprém knew last week they would advance to the quarter-finals, and they confirmed it tonight. Here is the match review from EHF journalist Björn Pazen:
Early signs that we could be in for a hot night in Denmark:
GOG with the better start: they lead 6:2 after the opening 10 minutes. Goal getters Simon Pytlick and Emil Madsen have both netted twice.
Last week Aalborg and GOG met in a European competition for the first time, but the Danish rivals have of course a rich history in domestic competitions: from their 50 duels in the Danish league and cup since their first meeting in April 2009, Aalborg have won 29 and GOG 15; six games ended in a draw. Aalborg also scored more goals: 1,464 against 1,419.
This season, they have already met four times in domestic competitions, with Aalborg winning three of those duels, most recently in the league in February. But GOG triumphed in their cup quarter-final – and went on to lift the trophy. Tonight, the hosts will get their confidence from that match.
The play-offs end with a tantalising Danish derby: GOG vs Aalborg. Watch this game live on EHFTV now and find out who is going to play Barça next!
So, with the third quarter-final now confirmed – Veszprém vs Kielce, a repeat of the 2016 final! – there is only one spot open. We don't know yet which team will take it, but we do know this team is from Denmark!
GOG and Aalborg throw off the final game of the play-offs soon. Again: Aalborg won the first leg by two goals (30:28), there will be no away goal rule or extra time but an immediate shootout if GOG win by two goals, and the aggregate winners tonight will face a quarter-final tie against... Barça!
What can you do when you start a match with a 13-goal deficit from the previous week? At least play better, and that is just what Szeged have done tonight, according to Miguel Martins:
The problem was the first match, when we made a real bad match. Today we tried to fight and at least win the match, but we knew here, with this atmosphere, it is really difficult. Today was much better, we fought and scored 33 goals, I think the defence was the problem. They played amazing, congratulations to Veszprém for these amazing two matches. And we need to continue to work.
Veszprém entered tonight's match backed by their 13-goal lead from last week. But for matches against Szeged, they don't need extra motivation, says Gaspar Marguc:
We wanted a victory in front of our home fans, and we did it, and I am so happy we did it. It is amazing. Szeged vs Veszprém matches are special, also for the fans. So we are so happy to give them this victory.
20:19 RESULT | Veszprém vs Szeged 38:33 (17:16)
> VESZPRÉM WIN 74:56 ON AGGREGATE, PLAY KIELCE IN QUARTER-FINALS
Congratulations to Veszprém! They have just officially reached their 21st EHF Champions League quarter-final – but there was of course no doubt left after the 13-goal away win last week.
Veszprém left it until the final quarter to create distance again, and in the end finish with a five-goal margin, and 18 goals overall... Who would have thought that at the beginning of last week?!
Rasmus Lauge with nine goals their best scorer, but Imanol Garciandia netted a leading 10 for Szeged.
Yes, we are going to miss Szeged in the remainder of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League season..:
You have got to feel for Juan Carlos Pastor. In what will be his last European match with Szeged, the star coach looks like suffering another big defeat against archrivals Veszprém. The margin is growing again: seven (34:27) at the moment...
Veszprém putting the pedal to the metal to open a five-goal gap (28:23) with 14 minutes left. Is that enough to win the Hungarian derby against Szeged for a second time within a week?
Rasmus Lauge scores his seventh of the match as Veszprém and Szeged are locked at 20 all. It is the prestige at stake both teams are playing for.
Safe to say those are key saves:
19:24 HALF-TIME | Veszprém vs Szeged 17:16
Veszprém doing just enough to stay ahead of Szeged. This is as close a match as you would expected – or already had expected last week...
Anyway, Rasmus Lauge the leading scorer with six goals for Veszprém; Imanol Garciandia has five for Szeged.
Five minutes left in the first half and again just one goal in it. This could become anyone's game tonight.
The support is there for Szeged, but they have dropped three behind in the opening quarter in Veszprém. Let's not talk about the overall margin (meanwhile +16 for Veszprém...), this is now all about honour.
Not much separating the teams in the opening 10 minutes: Veszprém just edge one ahead, 7:6.
Let's go, the final night of the play-off starts now! You can watch Veszprém vs Szeged live on EHFTV.
Veszprém posted this historic video. Can they get one step closer to fullfullig their biggest dream of all: winning the EHF Champions League?
If they get past Szeged, Kielce would be next in the quarter-finals!
Here is Veszprém's roster for the match against Szeged. Centre back Kentin Mahé the most notable absentee:
The final night of the play-offs starts in half an hour in Veszprém, where the hosts defend an unexpected 13-goal lead over Szeged from the first leg.
The situation is similar to what we saw in Kiel yesterday, where THW started the match with a 13-goal advantage over Dinamo. In the end, Dinamo won the match, but Kiel of course went on to the quarter-finals.
It would probably the biggest upset in EHF Champions League history if Veszprém would not go through tonight.
Last week Aalborg beat GOG by two goals with a young, relatively inexperienced team - albeit one led by the go-everywhere, do-everything veteran Henrik Møllgaard. Møllgaard is back tonight as they travel to arch-rivals GOG for a sold-out game in Odense; Felix Claar, who was injured last week, is also named on the roster as is Marinus Munk, the 19-year-old left back who came out of nowhere to play a match-winning role last week.
But don't rule out a GOG victory. The men in yellow perhaps did not play their usual standard last week, and roared on by their home fans, could easily reverse the results and qualify. Based on yesterday's thrilling two games, we're on for a treat to end the round at 20:45 CEST!
A few words from Veszprém coach Momir Ilic ahead of tonight's match:
Just two spots remain in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League quarter-finals, and it's going to be Veszprém or Szeged, and GOG or Aalborg, who'll take them. The Hungarian derby in Veszprém throws off at 18:45 CEST, followed by the Danish derby at 20:45 CEST.
As Szeged coach Juan Carlos Pastor is leaving the club at the end of this season, and Szeged have a 13-goal deficit to make up, it looks like it will be Pastor's last Champions League match for the club. So EHF journalist Adrian Costeiu had a chat with Pastor to reflect on 10 incredible years. It's well worth a read!
Wednesday 29 March 2023
That brings our coverage of the opening night of the play-offs' second leg to an end. We have seen a surprise win for Dinamo in Kiel, but with Kiel still advancing. And then that incredible MOTW, with Plock dramatically coming out on top in Nantes after winning the shootout.
It leaves only two quarter-final spots open:
- Kiel vs PSG
- Plock vs Magdeburg
- Veszprém or Szeged (Thursday, 18:45 CEST) vs Kielce
- GOG or Aalborg (Thursday, 20:45 CEST) vs Barça
So, join us again tomorrow – same time, same place – when we will find out our last two quarter-final contenders.
For now, it is good night and enjoy the best pics of the evening in our gallery:
Didn't we say "excitement levels will go up" at the start of the live blog today? They certainly did at the MOTW, where Plock came back from behind to beat Nantes, going through a shootout to book their first quarter-final spot.
Here is the match review from EHF journalist Kevin Domas:
What a breath-taking game this has been! Just what you expect from a MOTW, it had everything. Here are the first reactions from Plock right back Michal Daszek and Nantes top scorer Aymeric Minne:
We feel pretty amazing. Of course, we came here to fight to go to the next stage. We didn't start the game well, but we didn't give up. I cannot describe how happy I am now.
I don't know what to say, just one goal, one penalty in the end... From last week, we knew their defence: very aggressive, very high. In the end, the difference were the goalkeepers, and he (Ignacio Biosca) did a really good second half.
Aymeric Minne has been nothing short of superb in this MOTW and deserves the title Player of the Match. But oh, what would he love to swap this award against a place in the quarter-finals with Nantes...
Up close and personal with the Plock celebrations:
What. A. Finish. Of. MOTW!!!
First, this late and ice-cold equaliser by Alexandre Cavalcanti for Nantes in regular time:
Then, this superb and, also, ice-cold seven-metre shot by Przemyslaw Krajewski in the decisive shootout to send Plock through to their first ever quarter-final in the EHF Champions League:
22:32 RESULT | MOTW Nantes vs Plock 29:30* (25:25, 14:11)
> *after shootout (4:5)
> Plock win 62:61 on aggregate, play Magdeburg in quarter-finals
Plock have done it! What a sensational performance, coming from six goals down in the first half and keeping calm in the nervy closing minutes of the game in Nantes.
Terrific achievement, and now into their first-ever quarter-final... against a team that was also at the EHF Finals Men 2022 in Lisbon with them last season.
A shootout it is!
Alexandre Cavalcanti nets from distance in the closing seconds to save a 25:25 draw for Nantes. Plock were so so close to winning this – and to getting into their first quarter-finals.
This MOTW is really going down to the wire: 23:23 with three minutes left! Impossible to predict the outcome here. And, once again: if it is still level at the final buzzer, we head straight into a shootout; no away goal rule or extra time.
Less than eight minutes on the clock... Is this going to be Plock's first-ever win over Nantes? If so, what a time to get it! Remember, Plock have never been to the quarter-finals before.
Oh, are we in for a tense closing minutes in the H Arena!
Absolutely rising to the occasion: Ignacio Biosca, the wall in front of Plock's goal. The Polish visitors now leading by two (21:19), mainly thanks to his saves:
Wow, what is happening here?! Nantes seem in control but suddenly Plock have a four-goal streak to get level from 17:13 down. Time for Nantes coach Grégory Cojean to intervene!
21:22 HALF-TIME | MOTW Nantes vs Plock 14:11
Having led by six goals several times (11:5, 12:6) in the first half, Nantes have to settle for a three-goal lead at the break. Nice, but far from decisive! The first leg last week was a draw, so the winners tonight take all!
Nantes' Aymeric Minne with six goals the standout scorer so far; Lovro Mihic has four for Plock.
Plock have work to do to stay in touch with Nantes. Goals like this one certainly help:
Aymeric Minne is having a blast of a game so far. Very helpful for Nantes in this must-win MOTW!
Team timeout Plock. Worrying signs for the Polish visitors in the opening stages of the MOTW. Coach Xavier Sabate trying to regroup his team; so far, Nantes leading 9:4, and Aymeric Minne netting five already!
Dinamo win the match, Kiel through to the quarter-finals, where they meet PSG again – just like in 2021 and 2022. Read what happened earlier tonight in the first game of the night, in the match review from EHF journalist Björn Pazen:
Nantes with the better start in this MOTW: the hosts lead 5:2 in just over seven minutes of play against Plock.
No time to waste, on to the MOTW! Nantes and Plock are locked at 32:32 after the first leg in Poland, so the second leg in France is going to decide it all.
Tune in to EHFTV to watch this exciting MOTW live!
Dinamo can be proud of themselves. After that 13-goal drubbing at home last week, they have stood firm in Kiel tonight and, with some luck in the end, come even away with a victory.
Here is the post-match comment from right back Eduardo Gurbindo:
We are happy because winning here is really complicated. We showed to everybody that we are able to play Champions League. But we want to improve, to try for the EHF FINAL4 maybe in a few years. This was one little step.
This has been Niclas Ekberg's 555th match for Kiel, and once again he is his team's leading scorer, with nine goals this time:
We knew we had a good advantage, but we always want to win. That is why we have a bit of a bittersweet feeling now. I didn't really know (it was my 555th match for Kiel) but, of course, it is a great honour to represent this club for such a long time and play all these big games in front of this amazing crowd. I am proud of that.
20:14 RESULT | Kiel vs Dinamo 31:32 (16:17)
> Kiel win 72:60 on aggregate, play PSG in quarter-finals
Dinamo win but Kiel are through, of course, after that 41:28 victory from the first leg.
The excitement in the second leg happens in the closing seconds: Dinamo's Dan Racotea equalises for 31:31 with 11 seconds on the clock. And a wrong pass while searching for the winner with 7-against-6 comes costly for Kiel, as Andrii Akimenko scores from distance into an empty net.
Dinamo have come out tonight to leave this competition with their heads up high – and they do just that.
Kiel line player Henrik Pekeler sees it right: Kiel 28, Dinamo 28 as we are heading towards the final five minutes of their game.
Of course, Kiel have done more than enough over the two legs to earn their place in the quarter-finals... where they will meet PSG once again.
You have been waiting for the usual Sander Sagosen rocket? Here you go:
Head coach Filip Jicha applauds as his Kiel edge back in front again. Dinamo are a tough nut to crack and, of course, the Romanian champions have had their quarter-final hopes dashed already last week.
19:22 HALF-TIME | Kiel vs Dinamo 16:17
Not the first half the many Kiel fans have been hoping to see, but Dinamo are delivering a more than decent performance. Their one-goal lead will not make Kiel nervous, though.
Kiel lead Dinamo 7:2... when it comes to technical fouls. One of the reasons the hosts are not getting their nose in front again, let again steamrolling their opponents like last week.
Team timeout Dinamo. They lead 11:10 in Kiel and coach Xavi Pascual will certainly be happy with what he has seen so far.
One of the reasons Kiel have been ahead early on:
Even without realistic hopes of dumping the four-time champions out of the competition, Dinamo have clearly arrived in Kiel with the intention to play a more competitive game this time.
A 4:0 run even gives them a brief 7:6 lead.
Nothing so far suggesting a stunning turnaround in this tie, on the contrary: Kiel are 5:2 up on Dinamo after five minutes.
That makes for a 16-goal aggregate lead...
Let's go! Kiel and Dinamo get the second leg of the play-offs going right now.
The outcome of their play-off against Dinamo might be reason enough for Kiel to have a little party in the Wunderino Arena tonight. Regardless of the match result, however, Kiel have at least three other reasons to celebrate:
- this is wing Niclas Ekberg's 555th match for the club,
- and goalkeeper Niklas Landin's 400th match,
- and it is also the 45th birthday of their goalkeeper coach, Mattias Andersson.
What can Dinamo still do tonight? Coming back from 13 goals down sounds like mission impossible... however, we dived into the EHF archives and found this match from 11 years ago.
Füchse Berlin had lost the first leg of their 2011/12 quarter-final against Ademar León by 11 goals (34:23), but they managed to turn it all around in the return in Berlin and won also by 11 (29:18), with the away goal rule sending them through in the end.
Here is the footage of that legendary Füchse vs León match from back then, with legendary EHFTV commentator Tom Ó Brannagáin:
(Note: the away goal rule does not apply anymore in 2022/23!)
Just under 50 minutes now and the decisive leg of the play-offs throws off in Germany, where Kiel host Dinamo in a tie that seems decided after the firs leg.
Kiel came away with a stunning 13-goal in Romania last week, so they look heading for their 23rd quarter-final appearance in their 25th EHF Champions League season – what a stat!
No MOTW without the Timeout with Champions on our offcial ehfcl Instagram! This time, Hannah is speaking with Nantes' Jérémy Toto and Plock's Ignacio Biosca. Listen in to this, if you haven't already done so (click here or on the image):
With the MOTW representing the closest contest after the first leg – Plock vs Nantes was the only draw last week – the obvious question is: what will make the difference tonight when the teams meet again?
Our data analyst Julian Rux dived into this question and came up with this detailed analysis of the type of playing of Nantes and Plock in the latest episode of our Stats Counter series.
Nantes have the stats on their side, as they have not lost to Plock in their three previous encounters: last week's draw followed two 32:30 wins from the group phase five years ago.
However, Nantes have won just one of their last seven matches in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League – and that was in a away game as well, at Elverum Handball in Norway.
Thursday will be national derby day – in Hungary, with Veszprém hosting Szeged at 18:45 CEST; and in Denmark, with GOG taking on Aalborg at 20:45 CEST. Let's save our extensive previews of those matches for tomorrow...
... and focus on our two games tonight. We close the evening with the Match of the Week between Nantes and Plock. Last week in Poland, the teams settled for a 32:32 draw – despite Valero Rivera's 10-goal outing, leaving it all to play for in the H Arena tonight.
Nantes have an excellent track record when it comes to reaching the quarter-finals: they have done so three times in the four previous seasons they played in Europe's top flight. For Plock, though, it would mark their first ever appearance among the last eight teams of the EHF Champions League season.
What a lovely schedule we have coming up tonight and tomorrow. Each game has its own time slot, so you don't have to miss a single ball of any of the four decisive play-off matches...
... and with goals like this one from last week, you know why you should follow all the play-action closely:
Do you feel the jitters? This is the time of the week where handball fans have their excitement levels go up again. Welcome to another live blog covering the Machineseeker EHF Champions League 2022/23!
Today and tomorrow, we are going to find out which four teams continue their road to the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4 2023 and join already qualified Paris Saint-Germain HB, SC Magdeburg, Barça, and Industria Kielce in this season's quarter-finals.
Here is the schedule and the detailed preview for the decisive leg of the play-offs: