Nexe finish on top, Zagreb and Eurofarm Pelister out

Dominik Kuzmanovic | 7 meters

With some thrillers the group phases of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League and the EHF European League came to an end. While Nexe took a commanding win at Sporting in Portugal to finish their European League group on top, PPD Zagreb and Eurofarm Pelister are out of international competitions. Telekom Veszprem finished third in their Champions League group and now face their local rivals Pick Szeged in the play-offs.

Maschineseeker EHF Champions League

After losing the postponed match at FC Porto closely on Sunday, PPD Zagreb were chanceless in their final group match at Danish side GOG. Eight goals of Timur Dibirov and five strikes of Karpo Sirotic were not enough for the team of head coach Slavko Goluza to endanger GOG. After being down by 12:20 at the break and 16:26 later, Zagreb showed moral and reduced the gap goal by goal. At 27:30, it looked like PPD might have the chance to take the point they needed to proceed, but the comeback came too late.

Due to this defeat, PPD had to wait until Thursday and the result of the match FC Porto vs Wisla Plock – and finally a Croat sealed the fate of the Croatian record champions: Tin Lucin scored nine goals and was matchwinner for Plock’s 28:27 victory, which lifted the Polish side to the play-offs and eliminated Zagreb.
Telekom Veszprem were close to win the top match at group winners Paris Saint-Germain, but in the last minutes, the French powerhouse turned the match around. Veszprem needed to finish at least one point ahead of SC Magdeburg to rank second and to directly qualify for the quarter-finals. Before the final round Veszprem and Magdeburg were equal in points. And at the break in Paris, Veszprem seemed to put pressure on the German side, leading 24:19, but then PSG put the medal to the medal and won 37:35. Best Veszprem scorers were Dragan Pechmalbec with eight goals, Rasmus Lauge with seven and Manuel Strlek with six strikes. Finishing third in their group means that the team of head coach Momir Ilic now will face their Hungarian rivals Pick Szeged in the play-offs. The winners of these duels will lock horns with Industria Kielce in the quarter-finals.

Group A: PSG 24 (+53), Magdeburg 20 (+34), Telekom Veszprem 18 (+20), GOG 15 (5), Dinamo Bucuresti 13 (-13), Wisla Plock 9 (-38),  PPD Zagreb 8 (-30), Porto 5 (-31). 
EHF European League
Tatran Presov finished the group phase with a 30:38 (15:20) defeat at Swiss side Kadetten Schaffhausen. Already after round 8, Tatran was out of the race for the Last 16. Presov’s best scorers were Oliver Rabek by seven strikes and Lukas Urban with five goals.

Group A: Montpellier 16 (+35), Frisch Auf Goppingen 16 (+49), Kadetten Schaffhausen 14 (+20), Benfica 8 (8), Tatran Presov 4 (-40), Veszpremi KKFT 2 (-72). 
In Group C, Nexe Nasice finished on top thanks to a clear 344:28 victory at Sporting CP in Lisbon. The team of head coach Branko Tamse needed a point to win this group, but finally there was one player, who desperately was eager to win: Nexe’s outstanding goalkeeper Dominik Kuzmanovic, who saved 50 percent of all shots and finished on an outstanding number of 26 saves. After the 14:14 at the break, Nexe speeded up and pulled ahead thanks to Kuzmonovic and the nine goals of top scorer Marin Jelinic. Mario Tomic scored five times. Nexe will face Motor in the Last 16 and have the advantage on their side to have the crucial second leg at home.

Group C: Nexe 16 (+30), Sporting 14 (+18), Granollers 13 (+14), Skjern 10 (+10), Alpla Hard 4 (-30), Balatonfuredi 3 (-42),
Despite a great support by 2850 fans in Bitola, Eurofarm Pelister failed to qualify for the Last 16 after the 25:27 defeat against Motor. A draw would have been enough for the team of head coach Lars Walther, but in the end European League top scorer Ihor Turchenko decided the “final” for a spot in the knock-out stage. Marco Tankoski were Eurofarm Pelister’s top scorer by nine goals, Turchenko netted seven times. In minute 41, the score was levelled for the last time at 19:19, then Motor did not give the lead from their hands anymore and finished the group phase one point ahead of the Macedonian side.

Group D: Fuchse Berlin 20 (+77), Skanderborg Aarhus 14 (+31), Bidasoa Irun 9 (-1), Motor 7 (-25), Eurofarm Pelister 6 (-32), Aguas Santas 4 (-50),