Madeira in semi-final after dramatic match in Helsinki
AM Madeira Andebol SAD have reached the semi-finals of the Men’s Challenge Cup after a 26:26 draw away against Finnish Dicken. Also, A. E. K. Athens HC, HC Neva SPb and CSM Bucuresti comfortably advanced as the return matches of the quarter-finals were carried out this weekend.
In the semi-finals, with the first leg on 20/21 April, Madeira will take on last year’s finalists Athens and Neva will face CSM.
Dicken come up one goal short
Madeira survived an extremely close quarter-final encounter with European Cup debutants Dicken from Finland. Having won 28:27 at home, Madeira just made it with a 26:26 draw in Helsinki on Saturday afternoon.
However, the home team were close to snatching the ticket at the end of the second leg. Until the last minutes, Madeira seemed to be cruising towards the semi-final. They led 12:10 at half-time and were up 17:11 early in the second half.
But at 25:20 down with seven minutes left, Dicken started an impressive comeback and with 14 seconds left, Tadas Stankevicius equalised for 26:26.
Just one goal more would have sent Dicken to the semi-finals, but there was no time for another attack.
Athens make up four-goal deficit
Madeira’s next opponents, Athens, were chasing a four-goal deficit against Dynamo-Victor after losing 25:21 in Russia last weekend, but on home court, A. E. K. had no trouble catching up.
Dynamo-Victor were only able to follow the home team until 6:6, but the hosts had already built a 14:9 lead at half-time and they even went 10 ahead early in the second half.
The visitors created a bit of tension as they reduced to 27:21, but Athens, who were in the final last year, stayed six goals ahead until the end, 30:24.
Another six-goal win for CSM
CSM Bucuresti conceded three late goals (from 25:16 to 25:19) at home in the first leg against RK Borac m:tel last weekend, but their aggregate win came never under threat in the return leg on Saturday.
Despite the support of a massive 3,300 spectators, Borac could not keep CSM from landing another clear win. The visitors were leading 16:9 at half-time already and ultimately cruised into the semi-final with a 29:23 win.
Huge wing for St. Petersburg
In the semi-final, CSM will be up against HC Neva SPb. The Russian team had all odds on their side after winning their first match 33:26 away against HC Vise BM.
And the St. Petersburg-based team were even more dominating at home, where they completely overran their Belgian opponents.
It only took St. Petersburg 22 minutes to get their first 10-goal lead (16:6), and at half-time, they were leading by 12 (22:10).
In the second half, the home continued increasing their lead for a thumping 41:19 victory.Author: Peter Bruun / ew