Plzen and Benfica take shortcut to qualification round 3
Two of the 32 teams for the third and final qualification round for the MEN’S EHF Cup group phase have been found already. Talent M.A.T Plzen and SL Benfica booked their places in the group phase by winning their double headers in qualification round 2.
Plzen essentially secured their qualification round 3 berth in the first leg of their double-header at home against Hapoel Ashdod. 10 goals from left back Jakub Tonar contributed considerably to the 32:23 win for the Czech home team.
Plzen came back and won the return match as well. Hapoel Ashdod gained new hope from leading 3:0 and 7:3 in the second leg, but the Israeli visitors were not able to hold on. The scoreboard said 26:21 in favour of Plzen at the final buzzer.
10 goals from Alix Nyokas heavily contributed to SL Benfica’s narrow 29:28 win in the first of the Portuguese side’s two home matches against Croatian RK Dubrava. With a 34:16 win in the second leg, Benfica emphatically removed any doubt, and they cruised into the next round.
Ademar Leon very close
In the two previous seasons, Abanca Ademar Leon were in the group phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League. This season, the Spanish team is already very close to reaching qualification round 3 of the EHF Cup. After leading 14:7 at half-time of their away game in Novi Sad in Serbia, Ademar Leon won 28:20 against Vojvodina, who will find it very difficult to catch up when they visit Ademar Leon’s formidable home arena next Saturday.
Good second half allows Minsk to hope
SKA Minsk can thank a good second half for the fact that they have a good chance to proceed in the competition. The 33:33 draw in Slovenia against RD Riko Ribnica allows the Belarusian team to have rather high hopes ahead of the home game next Sunday.
Ribnica had the initiative in the first half, which they won 15:13, but the last 30 minutes belonged to the visitors – who led led several times before the match finally ended in a draw. 11 goals from left wing Jan Pucelj were not enough to secure a home win for Ribnica.
Thriller in Romania
The match in Slovenia was not the only thriller this weekend. There was also plenty of tension and excitement when SCM Politechnica Timisoara faced Olympiacos SFP.
A close first half ended with a 15:14 lead for the Greek visitors, and they extended their lead to four goals early in the second half. However, a strong comeback from the Romanian home team turned the tables into a 31:29 win for Timisoara. A two-goal deficit is obviously no disaster for Olympiacos before the return match at home, though.
Gorenje Velenje eying next round
No one could blame Gorenje Velenje for having their eyes set on the next round already. The Slovenian team, who have a proud tradition in Europe, are extremely close to qualification round 3 after their convincing away win against RK Metaloplastika Sabac on Sunday evening.
Gorenje were in control throughout the 60 minutes in Serbia. By way of a 16:11 half-time lead, they eventually cruised to a 32:24 win. 10 goals from left wing Matic Verdinek played their part in the clear Slovenian win.