Costa brothers secure Sporting’s draw
In the EHF European League qualification, Benfica had already eliminated Rhein-Neckar Löwen. Now their local rivals Sporting were an extremely high hurdle for another German club, defending champions SC Magdeburg, which had finished the almost perfect group phase with 19 from 20 possible points. After Magdeburg’s Bundesliga home defeat against Kiel, the team of head coach Bennet Wiegert were extremely shaken on Tuesday night, and were lucky to escape with a draw, as Sporting missed their last shot. Therefore, they are both still on equal terms to decide which team will face the winners of the duel Nantes vs Füchse in the quarter-finals.
Sporting CP (POR) vs SC Magdeburg (GER) 29:29 (16:13)
- 19-year-old left back Martim Costa was Sporting’s hero in the first half, scoring seven of their 16 goals - three times before the break, the hosts were ahead by three goals
- Magdeburg improved mainly in the defence and managed to stop the older Costa brother, but then 17-year-old Francisco Costa found the gaps - and he had eight strikes on his tally in total, like Martim
- as the defending champions defended much more efficiently and their regular top scorer Omar Ingi Magnusson heated up in the middle of the second half to finish with eight goals, they took their first lead at 20:19
- but nothing was decided in this thriller, the biggest gap after the 17:15 advantage in minute 33 was one goal, and the lead changed several times in the last minutes
- after a final time-out of their coach Ricardo Costa 30 seconds before the end, Martim Costa missed the last chance before the final buzzer
Magdeburg close to repeat history
SC Magdeburg had not lost any of their last 24 EHF European League/EHF Cup matches - including tonight. The last defeat was a 29:30 on 24 November 2020 at Swedish side Alingsas, followed by 13 wins including the final in the 2020/21 season. In the 2021/22 group phase, Magdeburg took nine victories and tied once. But the defending champions had a bad omen to play at Portugal - as in the 2018/19 season, they were eliminated in the qualification process, after a 27:34 defeat at Porto. In the end, history did not repeat for lucky SCM.
I have two feelings. I'm happy with my players' performance, but I wanted to win. It was a tough game. My players were very good in defence. In the second half we were not so good and [Jannick] Green was very good...It will be difficult in Germany, but we must fight until the end.
"Thank you for this tough game. I loved the atmosphere, it gave me goosebumps. It was special for me. Congratulations to Sporting CP. We start a new game next week.