Granollers with flawless comeback to set up quarter-final against Flensburg
SG Flensburg-Handewitt continued their road to the EHF Finals Men with another win against reigning champions SL Benfica, 33:28, to eliminate the Portuguese side from contention.
The biggest surprise came in Denmark, where Fraikin BM. Granollers, who won only a single away game this season, bounced back from their first-leg loss to take a 30:25 win. The Spanish side now progress to the quarter-finals, where they will face one of the big favourites to win the title, Flensburg.
LAST 16, SECOND LEG
SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs SL Benfica (POR) 33:28 (19:16)
SG Flensburg-Handewitt win 72:54 on aggregate
The German powerhouse have fixed their eyes on a EHF Finals Men berth since entering the competition and even more so when Flensburg was announced as the host town. They also sealed the largest win in the first leg, 13 goals, and with qualification virtually decided this match was only a formality for Flensburg. Trying to please their fans, the German side pushed the pedal in the first half, to create a three-goal lead at the break, 19:16, with an excellent 76 per cent shot efficiency. Benfica struggled to get their game going once again, but managed to cut the gap to a single goal, only to eventually concede a 28:33 loss, and confirm their elimination from the competition they won last season.
Skanderborg-Aarhus (DEN) vs Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP) 25:30 (13:16)
Fraikin BM. Granollers win 62:59 on aggregate
The prospects were quite bleak for Granollers, as they needed a win to turn the doubleheader on its head, and their credentials in away matches were shaky at best, winning only one out of five games. But the game quickly turned to a head-to-head battle between two young guns who shone at the M20 EHF EURO 2022, Skanderborg-Aarhus’ centre back, Thomas Sommer Arnoldsen and Granollers’ Jan Gurri Aregay. Arnoldsen scored six times, while Gurri Aregay countered with eight goals. Granollers right from the start continued their momentum from the first leg, where they had ended the match with a 5:0 run to narrow the first leg lead to just two goals. Granollers gradually built up a five goal lead in the match and a three goal lead on aggregate. The hosts, however, staged a comeback to cut the gap to two goals (tied on aggregate) with three minutes to go and the match seemed to be headed to penalties. But Granollers went on a 3:0 run to end the game, finishing on a high and delivering a masterstroke of a comeback to set up a crunch tie against Flensburg in the quarter-finals.