Away goals see Benfica through
SL Benfica will be among the 16 teams in the bowl Thursday at 11.00 CET in Vienna, when the draw for the Men's EHF Cup group phase is taking place.
However, the Portuguese team only got through due to the rule of away goals in their tie against RK Nexe in a round, which also secured German club handball full representation in the group phase.
Benfica qualify after drama
RK Nexe were in the quarter-final of the EHF Cup in the 2017/18 season and in the group phase last season. This season, however, the Croatian club only made it to the third qualification round.
After a nail biting finish to the second leg of their Round 3 tie against SL Benfica, Nexe had to see their Portuguese opponents celebrate their ticket for the group phase. Nexe won the first leg at home 30:26, but after a breath taking finish to the second leg in Lisbon, Benfica secured a 28:24 win, which sent them to the group phase for the second time in history after being there in the 2016/17 season.
Full representation for German handball
All four German teams in the competition are through to the group phase. Rhein-Neckar Löwen already finished the job on Wednesday, winning 29:17 at home against SKA Minsk after winning the first leg away 32:28, and on Sunday they were joined by SC Magdeburg, Füchse Berlin and MT Melsungen.
Leading 27:25 after their visit to Poland, Magdeburg could regard the return match against NMC Görnk Zabrze as a formality, where Magdeburg won big again, 37:26 this time. Füchse were leading 34:27 after their away game against HK Malmö, and in the return match in the Max-Schmeling-Halle, a 27:26 victory was more than enough.
Melsungen were defending a 32:28 lead when visiting Olympiacos SFP, and the many German fans, who had taken the trip to Greece to support their team, could celebrate at the end, as Melsungen made the German quartet complete with a 20:19 win.
Nantes proceed after thriller
HBC Nantes were only one goal up against OIF Arendal after winning 30:29 at home, but through a 30:30 draw after 16:16 at halftime, the French side just made it, but only after seeing the Norwegian hosts catching up with several three and four-goal leads along the way.
Narrow win for Opole in Polish derby
Polish handball will be represented in the group phase for the third year in succession, but it will be by a different team this time compared to the two previous years. KS Azoty-Pulawy SA failed to qualify for the third time in succession, as they lost the Polish derby against KPR Gwardia Opole narrowly on aggregate.
Opole won the first leg at home 26:24, after which a 29:28 win on home ground was just not enough for Pulawy in the return match. Never having made it any further than the second qualification round in this competition before, Opole could celebrate their first group phase berth ever.Author: Peter Bruun / tj