Magic Smits books Magdeburg’s first ticket to Cologne
The fans were shouting “Hier regiert der SCM” (SCM rule here), the players were jumping and dancing on the court, and the whole city of Magdeburg went crazy: 21 years after winning the EHF Champions League for the first and only time, SC Magdeburg have booked their first ever ticket to the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4 in Cologne.
After a 22:22 draw in the first leg and an equal first 45 minutes in the second leg against Orlen Wisla Plock, the hosts managed to pull ahead decisively. And the SCM players knew whom to thank most: outstanding Dutch right back Kay Smits, who scored 14 goals from 16 attempts and was awarded Player of the Match.
Another crucial factor was two Danes: Michael Damgaard, who netted eight times, and goalkeeper Mike Jensen, who saved some crucial shots in crunch-time. But the quarter-final debutants from Plock could leave the court heads held high, as they had given a great fight for 120 minutes in both matches.
QUARTER-FINAL, SECOND LEG
MOTW: SC Magdeburg (GER) vs Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) 30:28 (13:13)
First leg: 22:22. SC Magdeburg win 52:50 on aggregate
- the GETEC Arena was a true lion’s den, with 600 fans from Plock and 7,000 from Magdeburg - and they saw a sensational comeback for SCM line player Magnus Saugstrup, who tore his cruciate ligament after the World Championship at the beginning of February
- Magdeburg were still missing Icelandic super star duo Ómar Ingi Magnusson and Gisli Kristjansson, who broke his ankle last week at Plock
- in the first half Plock’s goalkeeper Marcel Jastrzebski was pivotal, combined with the trio of Lovro Mihic (five goals), Sergej Kosorotov (three) and Tin Lucin (two) in attack
- the rundown first 44 minutes saw the same tale over and over again: Magdeburg took the lead 21 times and Plock equalised 21 times
- a counter-attack by Swiss line player gave Magdeburg their first two-goal lead at 22:20 just before the 45th minute – followed immediately by a timeout called by Plock’s coach Xavier Sabate
- seven minutes before the end, the score was level again at 26:26, although Smits was already on 12 goals from 14 attempts
- three consecutive saves by Mike Jensen and finally Kay Smits’ 13th strike for 29:26 provided Magdeburg not only with their first three-goal advantage, but also the ticket to Cologne
Magdeburg debutants at the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4
After a 16-year absence from the EHF Champions League since 2005/06, SC Magdeburg returned to the top flight after becoming German champions last year, 21 years after winning the Bundesliga.
Since then, they have had to cope with several long-term injury setbacks of top stars such as Magnus Saugstrup, Ómar Ingi Magnusson and Gisli Kristjansson. But Bennet Wiegert’s team stood strong. Now Magdeburg are the seventh different German team to be part of the EHF FINAL4 after four-times winners THW Kiel, plus Hamburg, SG Flensburg, Rhein-Neckar Löwen and Füchse Berlin.
I am happy and proud of this achievement. The atmosphere in the GETEC Arena is always great, but that was a whole new level today.
They were a better team in the most important moments. They didn’t make a mistake in attack, they played really good in defence, their goalkeeper helped them. If you are losing by three goals in minute 57, 58, it’s impossible to win in this sort of atmosphere.