Skjern Handbold made it to the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finals for the first time in their history after sensationally eliminating Telekom Veszprém HC.
• Skjern are the first Danish side to reach the quarter-finals since 2012
• Veszprém will miss the VELUX EHF Champions League FINAL4 for the first time since the 2012/13 season
• Nine goals from Veszprém centre back Petar Nenadic represent the highest scoring record of the evening
Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) vs Skjern Handbold (DEN) 34:29 (16:13)
Aggregate result: 59:61
Veszprém entered the match fired up to turn the tables after losing the first leg away by seven goals. When Dejan Manaskov made it 10:7 for Veszprém after a clever pass from Momir Ilic, Skjern coach Ole Norgaard had to react with a timeout to slow the progress of the Hungarian giants.
The red sea of enthusiastic fans pushed Veszprém to their limits, but Skjern did not lose their ground. A change of goalkeepers for the hosts, with the introduction of Mirko Alilovic, was effective, but his counterpart Emil Nielsen also showed signs of brilliance as the Danish side managed to keep the aggregate in their favour at the end of the first half.
The Scandinavian back-court duo Jesper Konradsson and Kasper Søndergaard were two of the main threats for the visitors, scoring five goals each, whilst Anders Eggert added seven.
After a bright start to the second period, two suspensions for Veszprém switched the momentum in favour of Skjern. With the time progressing, the Hungarian team seemed incredibly nervous, resulting in bad passes and unconvincing combinations.
Penalty king Tibor Ivanisevic stepped in in the 44th minute to remind everyone of his brilliant penalty-saving success, and Skjern soon levelled the score courtesy of Anders Eggert (24:24).
A change to 4-2 defence and the productive Petar Nenadic (nine goals) gave Veszprém hope as they pulled four goals ahead with eight minutes remaining, but Skjern held on to the aggregate advantage.
A symbolic goal from Ivanisevic ended all hopes for the Hungarian side, as they tried to close the gap, but finished with the bitter taste of a five-goal win that was not enough – the Last 16 clash was lost in the first match in Denmark.
Veszprém coach Ljubomir Vranjes did not hide his disappointment after the game: “I am sad, disappointed, angry. We had to take risks. We played well today but the problem was the game in Demark. There was a lot of pressure on us today. We tried everything, we tried to overcome the seven-goal deficit, but we did not manage it.
I am the coach and I am responsible, and it is my mistake we did not qualify into the next round.”
His counterpart Norgaard was obviously a happy man:
“We played two great matches with an exceptional opponent. It is a great achievement for us, although it was really difficult. We played our best game as a team, underlined by quality individual performances.”
Source: eurohandball.com – Press release