What a match! Handball fans witnessed a fantastic final of qualification Group 1 in Presov on Sunday evening, when Sporting CP qualified for the VELUX EHF Champions League after beating Alpla HC Hard 35:34 in extra time.
Following a disappointing result against Alpla HC Hard in Saturday’s semi-final, TATRAN Presov beat Cocks in a confident way to seal third place.
• Sporting CP qualify for the group phase for the second time in the club’s history
• The Portuguese side will join HC Metalurg, Montpellier, Chekhovskie Medvedi, Motor Zaporozhye and Besiktas in Group D
• Injured Croatian goalkeeper Matej Asanin is the hero for Sporting CP thanks to a save in the last seconds
• Alpla HC Hard and Presov will feature in EHF Cup Round 3; Cocks in Round 2 will face Achilles Bocholt (BEL) who beat RK Partizan 1949 Tivat (MNE) in the first round
Cocks (FIN) vs TATRAN Presov (SVK) 27:30 (10:15)
The Slovakian champions beat Cocks by three goals after improving their performance seen in the semi-final. Presov therefore finish third in the Qualification Tournament and make their way directly to Qualification Round 3 in the Men’s EHF Cup.
Effective from the back court
Presov were confident from the back court positions and successfully converted the chances they created – something they could not do in the semi-final match against Sporting.
Presov’s game plan on Sunday was much more adaptable without the obvious pressure of the semi-final match. Their defence managed to close spaces and put Cocks under strain.
In control from start to finish
Tatran were on the path to a win from the very beginning. They created a significant lead in the opening minutes of the first half only to build on it throughout the remainder of the match.
Despite their best effort, Cocks never really managed to push Tatran to their limits – and were not helped by Aliaksandr Tsitou picking up a red card in the 24th minute.
Nico Rönnberg led the scoring list for Cocks, with five goals – the same as in Sunday’s semi-final.
Dominik Krok was on fire for TATRAN with six goals, while Tomas Cip and Bruno Butorac, one of the new Croatian signings, added five apiece.
Sporting CP (POR) v Alpla HC Hard (AUT) 35:34 after extra time (17:17)
Sporting CP qualified for the VELUX EHF Champions League after an extra-time win over Alpla HC Hard. Frankis Carol scored the winning goal in the last minute, before a crucial save from Matej Asanin sealed the victory.
Sporting CP did not start the match well and, after four technical faults, allowed the Austrian side to develop a three-goal lead.
Quality performances from Alpla’s back court line left Sporting unable to respond – it was only Asanin’s saves that kept the Portuguese flag waving at half-time. The Croatian star goalkeeper picked up a minor knee injury in the course of the game, but finished the match in style.
Alpla produced too many technical faults in the second half, from which Sporting benefited. Sporting CP scored five goals in a row between the 38th and 45th minute, with Felipe Borges earning the Portuguese team the lead for the first time.
Asanin stayed in goal despite being in evident pain, yet his performance was truly exceptional. Alpla failed to take advantage of his injured right leg.
Janko Bozovic missed the opportunity to decide the game with the buzzer against his countrymen, and the match was sent into extra time.
Sporting had the edge in extra time as Alpla were running out of energy in the final minutes. Coach Petr Hrachovec provided his team with a tactical master plan – changing defence from zonal to one-on-one, playing without a keeper in certain moments and having Golub Doknic between the posts despite the second half avalanche of goals from Sporting.
Alpla’s Lukas Herburger levelled the score with little over one minute remaining after Sporting missed an opportunity to increase the lead, but Frankis Carol finished his quality performance by scoring the winning goal in the very last minute.
Alpla could not respond with a late equaliser despite a huge effort, as Asanin stopped the final attempt.