Hard in round 3 after penalty shootout
A thriller in the Skjern Bank Arena ended with ALPLA HC Hard celebrating their ticket for qualification round 3 of the Men's EHF Cup. However, it took a lengthy penalty shootout before the matter was ultimately decided in the Austrian side's favour.
In other thrillers, Csurgói KK managed to proceed on away goals to the cost of HC Dobrogea Sud Constanta, while Olympiacos SFP were able to turn the tide against SCM Politehnica Timisoara and reach the next round.
Penalty thriller in Skjern
A penalty shootout – which lasted nine shots for each team – was necessary to determine the winner of the tie between ALPLA HC Hard and Skjern Handbold.
Skjern had won the first leg away 26:25, and the scoreline was exactly the same after 60 minutes of the return match in Skjern Bank Arena, but it was in favour of Hard this time.
The fact that the score was completely level made a penalty shootout necessary to determine the overall winner.
It took no fewer than nine penalties from each team before Hard could finally celebrate their round 3 berth, while Skjern – who were in the quarter-finals of the VELUX EHF Champions League as recently as the 2017/18 season – exited the EHF Cup after qualification round 2.
Having won the first leg 24:22 on away ground, Csurgói KK had a justified hope of reaching the next round when they hosted HC Dobrogea Sud Constanta.
However, the Romanian team, who were in the group phase of the competition last season, definitely wanted to have a say in that matter too.
In fact, Constanta were leading by three goals for large parts of the match, and with seven seconds left, Irakli Chikovani gave them another three-goal lead at 21:18, which would have sent them to the next round.
With just one second left, however, Csaba Leimeter reduced the score to 21:19, which was enough for the Hungarian home team to proceed on away goals.
At half-time in the Rentis Melina Merkouri, SCM Politehnica Timisoara seemed to be heading for the next round. They led 15:13 against Olympiacos SFP, having won the first match 31:29 at home.
However, the second half did not turn out as beautifully for Timisoara as the singing from Melina Merkouri, after whom the arena was named.
Instead, Olympiacos turned the tide and gained access to round 3 by winning 29:26, turning the weekend into a bad one for the Romanian teams.
Smooth sailing for Leon, Velenje, Arendal and Malmö
Having won 28:20 away, Abanca Ademar Leon could take things fairly easy when hosting Vojvodina, and that was exactly what the Spanish team did in the first half, which the Serbian visitors won 13:12. In the second half, Leon tightened the grip, however, and won the match 30:23.
Just like Leon, RK Gorenje Velenje were defending an eight-goal lead before playing at home. Having won 32:24 away against RK Metaloplastika Sabac, the Slovenian side could relax and be content with a 32:29 win.
OIF Arendal had a 30:25 advantage from their visit to Iceland when FH Hafnarfjordur visited Norway for the second leg. A narrow 28:27 win was enough for Arendal, whose overall win was never threatened.
HK Malmö brought a 33:27 lead with them to the away game against Icelandic champions Selfoss, and although the Icelandic hosts were leading by three goals several times, the Swedish visitors were never really in trouble and won 31:28.
Home advantage did it for Minsk
SKA Minst will also be in draw for the third and final qualification round.
The Belarusian team took a 33:33 draw away in their first match against Slovenian RD Riko Ribnica. SKA made it all clear in the second leg with a 28:23 win at home in front of 2050 spectators.
It took the home team some time to decide the matter, though. At half-time, the score was 13:13, but in the last 30 minutes, SKA were able to establish a decisive lead.Author: Peter Bruun / jw