SUMMARY: Magdeburg and Plock complete EHF Finals line-up
Following the second leg of the EHF European League Men 2021/22 quarter-finals on Tuesday night, RK Nexe, SL Benfica, Orlen Wisla Plock and SC Magdeburg confirmed their places at the EHF Finals Men 2022.
- EHF European League Men quarter-finals, leg 2
- Benfica advance 63:56 on aggregate after a 27:27 draw against Velenje
- Nexe progress 69:64 on aggregate after a 37:37 draw against GOG
- defending champions Magdeburg beat Nantes 30:28 to complete a 58:53 aggregate win
- Plock defeat Schaffhausen 35:22 to seal their place at the EHF Finals with a 68:53 aggregate win
- all matches streamed live on EHFTV
We leave you for tonight with some of the best photos from the four quarter-final second legs.
The EHF Finals Men will take place on 28 May and 29 May, and there will be comprehensive coverage of the event on eurohandball.com and across the EHF European League social media channels.
If you want to find out more about Tuesday's quarter-final second legs, the match reviews from our team of journalists around Europe are now live on eurohandball.com. You can click on any of the links below to read more.
It is the only poll question that we could ask after the quarter-finals: which team do you think will win the EHF Finals Men 2022?
On the theme of Wisla Plock's joy, here are their post-match celebrations. Reaching the EHF Finals is a huge achievement for all four of tonight's aggregate winners.
Could any image display the joy of what heading to the EHF Finals Men looks like better than this one of Mihic Lovro?
As we just mentioned, Magdeburg faced Wisla Plock at the EHF Finals Men 2021. Benfica and Nexe will be first-time participants at the EHF Finals, so there is a good balance between experienced contenders and newcomers.
Magdeburg's celebrations after their second-leg triumph against Nantes can be viewed here!
Wisla Plock won 68:53 on aggregate
It is over as well in Poland, where Wisla Plock have completed a 13-goal win in the second leg over Kadetten Schaffhausen to book their place at the EHF Finals Men.
In last season's competition, Magdeburg beat Wisla Plock 30:29 in the semi-finals. Could we see a repeat this season? We'll have to wait for the draw to find out.
RESULT: SC Magdeburg 30:28 HBC Nantes
SC Magdeburg won 58:53 on aggregate
Nantes made some late headway against Magdeburg, but it was not enough to stop the German side from winning the second leg and progressing to the EHF Finals Men with a five-goal win on aggregate. Michael Damgaard made a huge contribution in attack for Magdeburg, scoring 12 times.
Nantes have reduced the deficit to two goals in the second leg. The bad news for the French side is that there are only two minutes remaining.
While Mike Jensen now has 10 saves for Magdeburg, Michael Damgaard has scored 11 goals. The Danish duo have put Magdeburg in a position that is unassailable with 14 minutes to go, and Damgaard has even shown that he can score from the wing.
The Magdeburg crowd are on their feet for Mike Jensen after the Danish goalkeeper made two stops from close range in less than a minute.
Meanwhile, Plock have extended their lead to nine goals, 21:12, after 36 minutes. Check out Niko Mindegia setting up an in-flight goal for the Polish side in the first half.
The second half is underway in Magdeburg. After four minutes of the second half, Magdeburg lead 18:15 as Michael Daamgard continues to unleash unstoppable shots from nine metres.
We know that they have amazing team. We prepared good because we were aware that there was a difficult match ahead of us. I think we played good in both matches and successfully reached our goal to qualify for the EHF Finals.
Michael Damgaard finished the first half for Magdeburg with seven goals. Perhaps just as significantly, no player has scored more than two goals for Nantes, who have a steep hill to climb in the second half.
HALF-TIME UPDATE: SC Magdeburg 16:12 HBC Nantes
Orlen Wisla Plock 17:11 Kadetten Schaffhausen
It is looking good for both home teams at half-time of our 20:45 CEST matches: Magdeburg have extended their aggregate lead to seven goals, and Wisla Plock are now eight clear against Kadetten Schaffhausen.
Stand and deliver, you might say – and Damgaard has delivered the goods for Magdeburg in the first half.
Magdeburg are in control against Nantes, 11:8, after 19 minutes. Michael Damgaard has found the back of the net five times for the hosts, but Nantes have reduced the deficit from five goals to three goals in the last two minutes.
As Magdeburg vs Nantes gets underway in Germany, what is the size of the task that awaits the French side? Magdeburg's last loss in their home arena in a European competition came in the semi-final of the EHF Cup 2017/18 against Saint-Raphael Var Handball, 28:27.
Before we move on to focus on the second leg of SC Magdeburg vs HBC Nantes, here are the celebrations from the first two teams to reach the EHF Finals Men: Benfica and Nexe.
Halil Jaganjac scoring one more goal than Simon Ptylick, GOG's top scorer in the second leg, is less important than Nexe's progression to the EHF Finals Men, but the Croatian left back was fully deserving of his "goal machine" label this evening.
RK Nexe win 69:64 on aggregate
Another second leg ends in a draw... another team holding the advantage from the first leg progresses to the EHF Finals Men. RK Nexe are through after a high-scoring draw against GOG.
SL Benfica win 63:56 on aggregate
Despite Matic Verdinek leading the scoring for Velenje, the second leg between the Slovenian side and Benfica ends 27:27. Thanks to their seven-goal win in the first leg, Benfica are first side through to the EHF Finals Men at the end of the month!
Nicolej Krickau has instructed his team to use an extra attacking player. After GOG's first attack without a goalkeeper, Halil Jaganjac took advantage of the empty net to score for Nexe. Nexe lead 33:29 after 49 minutes played.
When Matthias Dorgelo made this save for GOG in the 35th minute, the Danish side were closing in on levelling the aggregate score. Now, with just over 15 minutes remaining, they need to start again.
How quickly things can change! Marin Jelinic brings Nexe level in the second leg...
... before Fahrudin Melic gives them a 27:26 advantage that prompts a GOG timeout. As with the theme of the match, both goals were scored on the fast break.
In the GOG vs Nexe match, both teams have now scored seven fast break goals. Given the number of goals scored in the first half, GOG will probably have to win the match by at least six goals to qualify.
It is worth noting that Benfica trailed 6:3 after almost 11 minutes against Gorenje Velenje. However, they found their range in attack in the last 20 minutes of the first half to increase their aggregate lead to 10 goals at half-time.
Here is Simon Pytlick's goal that levelled the score for GOG at 17:17 in the first half. Off balance or not, Pytlick found a way to get the shot away and, crucially, beat Radovanovic.
HALF-TIME UPDATE: GOG 22:20 RK Nexe
After a scoring drought of almost five minutes towards the end of the first half, GOG have capitalised and hold a two-lead at the break in an otherwise high-scoring contest. Simon Pytlick, who equalised for the Danish side at 17:17 after a 4:0 run, has scored seven times in the first 30 minutes. Nexe's advantage on aggregate now stands at three goals.
HALF-TIME UPDATE: RK Gorenje Velenje 11:15 SL Benfica
As per the statistics from EHFTV, Benfica have dominated the scoring and save percentage categories in the first half - and they lead 15:11 in Slovenia against Gorenje Velenje.
Officially, Sergey Hernandez has made six saves for Benfica, while Demis Grigoras leads the scoring for the Portuguese side with four goals.
If you are wondering what is happening in the Gorenje Velenje vs Benfica game, it is similar story as Benfica have a three-goal lead after 25 minutes.
In the first leg, Mihailo Radovanovic made 12 saves from 36 shots faced. Radovanovic has saved six shots from 16 faced in the opening 20 minutes this evening, which is significantly better than Viktor Hallgrímsson's two saves from 17 for GOG.
After Jaganjac converts another fast break to give Nexe an 11:8 lead, GOG call a timeout.
There are already signs that fast breaks may well hold the key to this game. GOG and Nexe have both scored two fast break goals, and the home crowd are not keen for the visitors to spend too long in possession when they have the ball.
Halil Jaganjac is well and truly in the action for Nexe in the early stages. After firing in his second goal of the game, the Croatian left back picks up a suspension for excessive holding on GOG's next attack. Nexe lead 6:4 after seven and a half minutes played.
GOG's arena is not the biggest in the EHF European League Men, but there is already a good atmosphere in Gudme as we get underway. Here are both line-ups from EHFTV.
The focus on EHFTV in the warm-up for the GOG vs Nexe match was unsurprisingly on Jerry Tollbring and Halil Jaganjac.
When Benfica beat Gorenje Velenje by seven goals in the first leg last week, the Portuguese side's shooting efficiency was only two per cent higher than Velenje's.
Crucially, though, as the graphic that was posted on the EHF European League Twitter account earlier shows, Benfica scored six goals when they were shorthanded. Will playing at home enable Velenje to apply more pressure when Benfica are down a player? We will find out at 18:45 CEST!
Nexe coach Branko Tamse wants his team to focus on their own performance in the second leg against GOG.
On Monday, he said: "I think we made a good foundation for the return match after we celebrated in Nasice, but that honestly means nothing. Regardless of the fact that we have an advantage of five goals, we have to think and prepare for the victory. We know very well what kind of team GOG are — they are very awkward in their own arena. But we have to think about ourselves and our way of playing."
In GOG's last five home matches in the EHF European League Men, they have won one game by five goals or more — vs TBV Lemgo Lippe (34:28) in December. Whilst those games were not played with the scenario that GOG face against Nexe in the second leg, they will clearly need to perform at somewhere close to their highest level throughout the 60 minutes if they are to advance.
Curiously, Nexe have experience of overturning a six-goal deficit against a Danish side in this season's competition. In qualification round 2, Nexe lost the first leg 33:27 against Bjerringbro-Silkeborg in Denmark — but they won the second leg 32:26 in Croatia. The Croatian side are in the opposite position from that particular tie this evening, but another six-goal defeat in Denmark will end their hopes of reaching the EHF Finals Men 2022.
In arguably the biggest clash of the quarter-finals, Nantes face the uphill task to come from three goals behind when they visit Magdeburg tonight at 20:45 CEST.
But they show optimism on social media, recalling their past away results against teams like Rhein-Neckar Löwen, Lomza Vive Kielce, Telekom Veszprém HC... And don't forget they have just edged Füchse Berlin in the Last 16, too.
Can Nantes turn this tie against titleholders Magdeburg upside down?
A year after their participation at the inaugural EHF Finals Men 2021, Plock are on the brink of returning to the big season-ending event of the EHF European League.
The Polish side had a convincing group phase, finishing ahead of Füchse Berlin, before beating another German Bundesliga side – TBV Lemgo Lippe – in the Last 16. Their two-goal away win at Kadetten, which could have been even more substantial without the hosts' 4:0 run to close that first leg, looks a solid buffer ahead of the return game in their own arena at 20:45 CEST.
In the other match starting at 18:45 CEST, GOG are trying to make up a five-goal deficit against Nexe. In Croatia last week, Nexe enjoyed a two-goal lead at the break, started the second half on an outstanding 5:2 run and never looked back as they cruised to a 32:27 win.
Even though scoring 30+ goals in a match is no exception for GOG, the Danish side's goalkeeper Viktor Hallmgrímsson tells EHF journalist Björn Pazen in this interview that they take nothing for granted. And with many players leaving the club after this season, GOG "know this is the last chance in this constellation of the squad to do something big. This is why our motivation is so huge and this situation definitely increases our team spirit."
Velenje impressed in the play-offs with a seven-goal home win over USAM Nimes Gard... and they will need something similar tonight to overcome Benfica, following that 36:29 defeat in Portugal last week.
In this interview with EHF journalist Danijela Vekić, goalkeeper Aljaz Panjtar says he believes in Velenje's chances tonight:
In the first leg last week we had two home wins and two away wins. Both matches where the home teams took a comfortable-looking win, are the first on our second-leg schedule tonight, with throw-off scheduled at 18:45 CEST:
- Velenje vs Benfica (first-leg result 29:36)
- GOG vs Nexe (27:32)
Can the home crowds in Slovenia and Denmark help their heroes overcome the deficits from the first leg?
A good starting point to get in the mood for, and informed on tonight's matches is our quarter-final second-leg preview:
Good afternoon and welcome to the last live blog for the EHF European League Men 2021/22 before we head into the EHF Finals Men 2022 in the last weekend of this month. The big question, which four teams we are going to see battle it out for the title on 28/29 May, will be answered tonight.
Here is the playing schedule for the all-decisive second leg of the quarter-finals: