St. Petersburg, CSM Bucuresti close to semi-finals as quarter-finals get underway
A seven-goal away win against Belgian HC Vise BM brings HC Neva SPb very close to the semi-finals in the EHF Men´s Challenge Cup, where the first leg of the quarter-finals was played this weekend.
CSM Bucuresti, on the other hand, may feel a bit annoyed by having allowed RK Borac m:tel to reduce a nine-goal distance to six goals in the last minutes. While Dynamo-Victor and VSAM Madeira Andebol SAD take more narrower leads into their second legs.
HC Vise BM (BEL) vs HC Neva SPb (RUS) 26:33 (13:17)
HC Neva SPb are very close to the semi-finals after winning clearly 33:26 in Belgium against HC Vise BM.
After a fairly equal start with a couple of two-goal leads for the visitors, the St. Petersburg side built up a clear lead already before half-time.
The Russian team were leading by five goals several times before taking a 17:13 lead with them into the break.
In the second half, Neva got up by nine goals at 26:17, and for most of the rest of the match, they were leading by eight goals before finally winning by seven, which should also form a comfortable lead before the return match in St. Petersburg next Sunday.
With eight goals each, Viktor Babkin and Pavel Turaev made their strong contribution to the Russian win.
CSM Bucuresti (ROU) vs RK Borac m:tel (BIH) 25:19 (16:7)
CSM Bucuresti have a good chance to proceed to the semi-finals too, but their position could have even better if they had not allowed RK Borac m:tel to get alarmingly closer towards to the end of this first leg clash.
The team from Romania were leading by nine goals, 25:16, shortly before the end of their home game, but the Bosnian visitors managed to reduce the difference to six goals, 25:19 before the buzzer which could come back to haunt the host side next week.
CSM dominated through most of the match and got their first nine-goal lead already at 13:4.
They were also leading by nine goals at half-time, at which point, the score was 16:7, and they continued nine goals up for most of the second, until Borac scored the last three goals of the match and increased their hopes, slightly, before the return match next Saturday.
Dynamo-Victor (RUS) vs A.E.K. Athens HC (GRE) 25:21 (13:13)
Last season, A.E.K. Athens made it to the final of the competition, and the club from the Greek capital may still make it that far again
However, they seem to have to step up to a certain extent in order to just make it to the semi-final this season as they will have to catch up with a four-goal deficit against Dynamo-Victor.
Dynamo-Victor reached the quarter-final of the Challenge Cup in their maiden season in Europe last year, and the Russian side have a good chance to take a step further this time after winning 25:21 at home Saturday.
The Russians were leading by two or three goals most of the first half, before A.E.K. suddenly passed them and got up 13:11.
With a 13:13 half-time deadlock however, the home team got back in control after the break and managed to take a four-goal win.
VSAM Madeira Andebol SAD (POR) vs Dicken (FIN) 28:27 (15:9)
Finnish side Dicken made the 4,300km journey from Helsinki to Funchal on the island of Madeira and nearly came back with a first leg win, losing by just one goal, despite being down by six at the break (15:9).
The home side had found the opening 30 minutes comfortable as they dominated their visitors, who took their first time out inside the first 10 minutes as coach Bjorn Monnberg looked to re-adjust his team.
Despite the pause, his side could not come close at the break, but the second half saw a much improved performance as Max Granlund ended up with nine goals in total to give his side a real chance of making the last four teams next week.
For the Portuguese side, they will be wondering how they let a six-goal lead slip to one, but they know they only have to draw in the north of the continent to grab that semi-final spot.