QUARTER-FINAL REVIEW: Bietigheim and Metzingen defend their advantages from the first leg, while Nykøbing edge Randers in a Danish derby to advance to the semi-finals.
Two German teams advance to EHF Cup Semi-finals
The semi-finals of the Women’s EHF Cup will feature two teams from Germany, and one each from Denmark and Russia. TuS Metzingen will face Rostov-Don, while SG BBM Bietigheim are set to play Nykøbing Falster Håndboldclub on 8-9 and 15-16 April.
Following Sunday’s second leg matches of the quarter-finals, Bietigheim, Metzingen and Nykøbing joined Rostov, which had sealed their spot in the semi-finals the day before.
• NFH became the only loser from the first leg to overturn their deficit
WOMEN'S EHF CUP QUARTER-FINALS:
Kuban (RUS) vs SG BBM Bietigheim (GER) 31:26 (15:13)
Following a 33:26 win at home, the German Bundesliga leaders successfully defended their advantage in Russia – although their semi-final ticket was in danger at the end of the match.
Kuban are strong on home court. They had won all previous games in Krasnodar during the current EHF Cup season, and head coach Evgeni Trefilov promised that his team would “fight to the death.”
The first half of the match was in the balance but the hosts were in the lead (15:13) at the break. Kuban stepped up in the second half and led 21:16 in the 41th minute, prompting Bietigheim coach Martin Albertsen to call for a timeout.
After that, the teams were mostly separated by three or four goals, which perfectly suited the German side. However, Kuban pushed hard in the closing minutes, and with 55 seconds to go, Ksenia Dyachenko made it 31:25.
Another Kuban goal would have sent them through but Bietigheim held their nerve and captain Nina Müller scored 31:26 with just 18 seconds left on the clock.
Nantes Loire Atlantique HB (FRA) vs TuS Metzingen (GER) 28:31 (16:15)
Similar to fellow German team Bietigheim, Metzingen travelled to France to confirm the advantage gained in the first leg at home.
Their task seemed more challenging on paper as the German side had won by just four goals last week (27:23), yet the finalists of the EHF Cup last season claimed another victory.
The match was extremely close for most of the first half, with both rivals unable to create more than a one-goal edge.
Shortly before the interval, Nantes seemed to break the ice as they went up 15:13, yet Metzingen minimized the gap to trail by just one goal (16:15) at half-time.
After the break, Nantes made another attempt to pull clear, yet after 21:18 in the 35th minute, their dominance started to wane. Led by Luca Szekercses, who finished the game as top scorer with 10 goals, Metzingen turned the match around.
Midway through the second half, the teams were level at 24:24 before the visitors took the game under control and clinched the victory.
Nykøbing Falster Håndboldclub (DEN) vs Randers HK (DEN) 28:23 (13:12)
The Danish derby became the only quarter-final clash where the loser of the first leg managed to turn things around and progressed to the next round.
A three-goal home win last week (27:24) did not give Randers any guarantees as it was obvious that NFH had a solid chance to overcome the deficit at home.
That ultimately happened, although the first half was very close with no team clearly dominating on the court. However, NFH were a bit more fortunate as they led 13:12 at half-time.
Randers stayed close until 16:15 early in the second half before NFH dominated for about 15 minutes. Their impressive 11:4 run gave them an eight-goal lead (27:19).
Although Randers closed the gap to five (27:22), NFH did not let the victory slip from their hands and they set up a semi-final against Bietigheim.
TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / ew
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