Two SEHA - Gazprom League teams were in action this weekend, trying to book a spot in European competitions. Tatran had hosted the qualifying tournament in Presov in an attempt to reach the Champions League, whereas Dinamo played two matches in Lisbon against Benfica.
3rd place for Tatran
Tatran was a heavy favorite entering the match against Austrian side Alpla HC Hard. Neither team had been able to get a significant lead in the first half until the Austrians went up by 3 (13-10). Tatran managed to turn things around and take the lead (15-13). After a while, Alpla got back on track and grabbed the lead until the match was over. Tatran’s ball movement was too slow, Alpla got the better of them by playing extremely aggressive and mobile defence and were able to completely cut off Tatran’s wing players. It didn’t help that the Slovakians lost Michal Kasal early in the match. Moreover, Tatran missed their chances which in the end cost them the victory. The Austrians proceeded to the final match against Sporting, while Tatran had Cocks from Finland waiting for them in the 3rd place match.
On Sunday, we found out who is going to Champions League Group D. Sporting from Portugal played against Alpla HC Hard. It was truly a thrilling match where we didn’t know the winner until the very last second. The match went to extra time where Sporting took the lead and kept it until the end. Matej Asanin, former PPD Zagreb goalkeeper, pulled a heroic save in the last second to send the Portuguese to Champions League. Alpla HC Hard came close, but will have to satisfy themselves with the EHF Cup.
The same path awaits for Tatran Presov, as they managed to regroup and win the 3rd place match against the Finnish side Cocks. It was definitely not the result Slavko Goluza and his team were hoping for, but they will now have a chance to focus on the SEHA - Gazprom League and the EHF Cup.
Sporting- Riihimaen Cocks 31:27 (18:14)
Tatran Presov- Alpla HC Hard 25:26 (12:13)
3rd place match
Tatran Presov- Riihimaen Cocks 27:30 (10:15)
Sporting- Alpla HC Hard 35:34* (17:17)
EHF Cup not a priority for Dinamo
Dinamo from Pancevo traveled to Lisbon without their first-choice goalkeeper Dusan Petrovic and without Branko Radanovic. Ivan Petkovic clearly stated that the SEHA- Gazprom League is more important than these two matches against Benfica, so it was no surprise to see them struggle against the strong Portuguese side, especially knowing Dinamo didn’t play in full strength. The Serbian team lost the first match 39:20, so Ivan Petkovic didn’t want to see the repeat of that scenario in the second match. While Dinamo lost both matches, the second showing was much better. Even though Dinamo lost both matches, a good result was never on the table in this competition, especially knowing how tight the schedule is in the SEHA- Gazprom League. Still, Dinamo displayed some promising performances, particularly in the second match. They will look to bounce back with a positive performance against Meshkov Brest on Wednesday.
Benfica- Dinamo 39:20 (21:9)
Dinamo- Benfica 28:35 (9:17)