Europe’s second-tier international club competition, the Men’s EHF Cup, is set for the final stage after the quarter-finals finished on the last weekend of April. Two-time IHF Super Globe winners Füchse Berlin, Danish club TTH Holstebro and Portuguese side FC Porto Sofarma qualified for the final weekend in Kiel, Germany, joining hosts of the AKQUINET EHF Cup Finals THW Kiel in the semi-finals.
As hosts of the AKQUINET EHF Cup Finals, where the semi-finals and medal matches will be played over one weekend on May 17 and 18, Kiel were automatically qualified for the event. Therefore, only three two-leg quarter-finals were played.
FC Porto Sofarma made history with their qualification for the finals. Not only is it the club’s first qualification for the semi-finals, it is the first time a Portuguese side have reached the EHF Cup Finals event.
Porto’s quarter-final was one of the most exciting, as they drew with their opponents Saint-Raphael Var Handball 30:30 in the first leg, leaving everything open for the second. Playing at home in the return fixture, Porto claimed a 34:30 victory to take an aggregate 64:60 win, thereby celebrating the AKQUINET EHF Cup Finals ticket.
TTH Holstebro also played a thrilling quarter-final, as they won the first leg 29:24 but fell behind in the second leg. Their opponents, Grundfos Tatabanya KC, were leading 22:16 and seemed very much on their way to overturning the first-leg result on their own court in Hungary. But a change in goalkeeper for Simon Gade to step into Holstebro’s goal proved the deciding factor, as Gade had an incredible game and helped limit the Danish side’s defeat to 23:26. Holstebro therefore finished with an aggregate victory of 52:50.
Defending EHF Cup champions Berlin were the only team to win both legs of their quarter-final tie. In an all-German pairing, Berlin defeated TSV Hannover-Burgdorf 64:54 on aggregate. After winning the away leg 34:26, Berlin had a comfortable lead and only had to avoid a major misstep in the return fixture, which they won 30:28 to secure their finals berth.
All four teams now await the finals event in Kiel on May 17 and 18.
More information on the Men’s EHF Cup can be found on the official website.
Photo: Foto Lächler