Handball Champions League – Szeged qualify for quarter-finals after first-half-scare
MOL-Pick Szeged defeated Bjerringbro-Silkeborg in their sold-out arena on Sunday to claim a place in the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finals, where they will face French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain.
• In the wake of their 26:24 away win in the first leg, MOL-Pick Szeged beat Bjerringbro-Silkeborg by a clear nine-goal margin and finish with an aggregate 59:48 victory
• After a strong first half from BSV, Szeged turn the game around in the second half to advance to the last eight for the fourth time in their history
• Stas Skube, Sergei Gorbok and Jonas Källman score a cumulative 21 goals, while Sebastian Skube and Nikolaj Markussen top score for the Danish team
• Silkeborg score 16 goals in the first half but were restricted to only eight after the break
MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) 33:24 (14:16)
The Danish players were not talking to the wind when they promised to put up a fight in Szeged, starting with the same strength they did at home. The only question was whether Bjerringbro could maintain the tempo for the entire game, not only for 40 minutes.
Déjà vu in the first half
Stas Skube opened scoring after some brilliant individual efforts but the opening period was controlled by the visitors, who quickly put together a three-goal lead. Szeged coach Juan Carlos Pastor was forced to take his first time-out as early as the 10th minute, but despite goals from Sergei Gorbok, who was on fire from the first minute, the home side were trailing the visitors.
It was the first leg’s first half all over again: Sebastian Skube and Nikolaj Markussen kept Silkeborg in front as Szeged could not get a grip on their opponents’ aggressive approach throughout the first 30 minutes.
Markussen scored from an overtime free throw to give the Danish side a two-goal advantage and draw the teams level on aggregate at half-time.
One could have said Juan Carlos Pastor’s team was in trouble as neither their defence nor their goalkeeper played to their best, but the pattern of the first leg and Szeged’s tendency to stage strong comebacks promised an exciting second half.
Szeged take just five minutes to turn things around
As expected Szeged started the second half in a very different way. Jose Manuel Sierra made some crucial saves and the home side turned the game upside down in a matter of minutes. Jonas Källman inspired Szeged to a 6:1 run and the Hungarian team took the driver’s seat.
“The most important was that we eventually won, but we have to keep working to play at this level for the entire game, not just for the second half,” said Stas Skube, who played his best game for Szeged.
Skube, Gorbok and Källman took care of the attacking aspect but it was Szeged’s defence that made the real difference. As if they were a different team from the first half, the home side’s 6-0 defensive wall made life miserable for Silkeborg’s players, who struggled in front of Sierra’s goal.
As Silkeborg ran out of steam Szeged could even afford to score spectacular in-flight goals that sent their grateful fans into a frenzy. There were no open questions left for the last minutes, as Szeged easily made their way to the quarter-finals.
“It wasn’t our attacks that caused our problems in the first half, but the defence. The second half was much better and we defeated a very good side,” said Szeged coach Pastor after the game.
TEXT: Bence Martha / cg
Source: EHF – press release