ROUND REVIEW: Ardesen GSK will play their first Women's Challenge Cup semi-final after a nailbiting tie with Kristianstad, while Gran Canaria make it easier against Zagnosspor
Ardesen and Gran Canaria join semi-final roster
With six goals in a row, Ardesen GSK turned the tables against Kristianstad Handball Klubb and qualified for the semi-final of the Women's Challenge Cup on most away goals.
A good 10 minutes before the end of the second leg of the quarter-final tie between Kristianstad Handball Klubb and Ardesen, the Swedish home team were leading 25:22. After having won the first leg 26:23, Kristianstad seemed to be in the semi-final of the Women's Challenge Cup already.
But by scoring the last six goals of the match, Ardesen managed to turn the deficit into a 28:25 win, a result which send them to the semi-final by having scored more away goals.
This was the conclusion of a dramatic match, in which the teams took turns at being heading for the semi-final.
Kristianstad got the far better start, moving into a 5:1 lead, until Ardesen found their rhythm and picked up a string of goals to go 16:13 up at half-time.
Ardesen stayed three goals ahead until 19:16. Then Kristianstad got a strong spell again, being 25:22 up before Ardesen's irresistible finish.
In the semi-final, Ardesen will meet Polish club MKS Perla Lublin who qualified last weekend by winning a double header with six goals on aggregate against Rincon Fertilidad Malaga.
Former winners meeting
The other semi-final will be between 2016 Women's Challenge Cup winners, Rocasa Gran Canaria, and 2017 champions HC Lokomotiva Zagreb.
Gran Canaria did not have much trouble qualifying in their double header this weekend against Zagnosspor from Turkey. Both legs were played in Gran Canaria, and both matches resulted in a clear win for the home team.
The Saturday game was won 25:20 by Gran Canaria, who were even more dominant in the return match on Sunday afternoon. After a narrow 18:17 lead at half-time, the home team cruised into the semi-final with a win of no less than 37:25.
Lokomotiva Zagreb were leading by nine goals after winning their home game 26:17 against Virto/Quintus, and the Croatian side never gave their opponents the taste of the chance of turning the tide, when they visited the Netherlands for the return match. Lokomotiva won again, 27:24 this time.
The semi-finals will be played in April. Ardesen are starting at home against Lublin, while Lokomotiva have the home right in the first match against Gran Canaria.
TEXT: Peter Bruun/jh
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