Nexe through to quarter-finals after drama in Nasice
Nexe shocked their fans and and then made a spectacular comeback against Motor. After trailing by eight goals at one point, Nexe strengthened their defence in the second half to claim a quarter-final spot despite a 27:29 defeat.
After a seven-goal lead in the first leg, Frisch Auf Göppingen did just enough to win one more time on Tuesday and progress to the next phase of the EHF European League Men.
Nexe and Frisch Auf Göppingen will face each other in the quarter-finals, with the first leg scheduled for Tuesday 11 April and the reverse fixture a week later, on Tuesday 18 April.
LAST 16, SECOND LEG
RK Nexe (CRO) vs HC Motor (UKR) 27:29 (9:16)
RK Nexe won 54:52 on aggregate
Motor went all-in from the first whistle and delivered a top-notch performance in the first half. Meanwhile, Nexe struggled in attack from the start, not scoring until the fifth minute with a highest attack efficiency of 41 per cent in the first half. Goalkeeper, Dominik Kuzmanovic kept them in the game with his seven saves, but on the other side, Gennadii Komok was unbeatable between the posts. The Ukrainian goalkeeper stopped Nexe nine times for a 50 per cent save efficiency and helped his team to a seven-goal lead with counter-attacks - a lead which put Motor in front by three on aggregate at half-time.
Nexe had a stronger defensive display in the second part and tried to shake things up with their player rotation. It seemed that Nexe had found their moment, as Tomislav Severec once again showed his strong hand and narrowed the gap to four (tied on aggregate). Motor's engine slowed down, not being able to score as easily and helped Nexe to get back into the game. It was a drama all the way as Motor had the last attack and a chance to send the game into a shootout, but Severec intercepted the ball and scored his eighth for the final score and a place for Nexe in their second straight quarter-finals.
We ended the game with a victory, but the goal difference was not enough to enter the quarter-finals. But, regardless, I am happy and proud of what my team showed tonight. I must mention that we play for our people, for Ukraine, and I am grateful for the support our team receives,
Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER) vs Valur (ISL) 33:31 (18:15)
Frisch Auf Göppingen won 69:60 on aggregate
The German club got their second win over Valur in a week. Valur kept it level for almost 25 minutes, but Göppingen made a goal-run and buoyed by the performance of Marcel Schiller took a three-goal lead at half time. Overall, the Icelandic defence had problems stopping the strong back court shots of the home side.
Göppingen kept the same pace in the second half, but with an 11-goal advantage on aggregate in the 40th minute they slowed down a little. Young left back Tryggvi Garðar Jónsson saw his chance, and after five goals in the first half, he added another six in the second to keep the match close, even if an aggregate turnaround was not feasible. The home team sealed a narrow win with 12 out of 13 field players netting at least once.