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Date: 8/25/2017

Two-time IHF Super Globe champions FC Barcelona opened the 11th edition of the tournament in Duhail Sports Hall with an emphatic win over Esperance Sportive de Tunis, qualifying for the semi-final where they will meet the current EHF Champions League title holders HC Vardar. Vardar made their way to the semi-final with a clear victory of their own, beating Iranian side Naft-O-Gas-Gachsaran by eight goals.  

Defending champions Füchse Berlin followed with a hard-fought two-goal win against determined Esporte Clube Pinheiros, and will therefore contest the semi-final against Al Sadd, who won the last quarter-final against Sydney Uni Handball Club. 

Quarter-final: FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) vs Esperance Sportive de Tunisie (TUN) 42:24 (19:10)

FC Barcelona coach Xavi Pascual made it clear prior to the beginning of the 2017 IHF Super Globe that the competition is a crucial one – not only for the trophy but because of the importance it holds in the team’s preparation for the season. As Pascual guided his side to a decisive quarter-final victory, he also used the chance to practice different defensive and attacking line-ups. 

The game opened evenly with vocal support for ES Tunis from their many fans in the arena, but it did not take long before the nine-time EHF Champions League winners took control. 10 minutes in Barcelona led 6:4, before hitting double digits to their opponents’ five goals in the 13th. 

After the score of 10:5 neither team could find the goal for over five minutes. The score stayed where it was as Tunis keeper Ahmedamine Bedoui saved a fast break attempt against Barcelona right wing Victor Tomas, and it was not until the 17th minute when Dika Mem added a breakthrough goal for the European side that the score board changed. 

Barcelona coach Xavi Pascual rotated through his bench significantly, with Slovenian newcomer Jure Dolenec substituting as an attacking specialist after the 10-minute mark and 2017 Junior World Championship All-star right wing Aleix Gomez taking Tomas’ place in the second quarter of the match. 

When Barcelona held a nine-goal advantage at the break it seemed clear the outcome was decided. ES Tunis took another time-out just before the clock ticked into the last quarter of the game, but at that point Barcelona were well on the path to victory as they held a 13-goal advantage (29:16). 

At the final whistle Barcelona recorded an 18-goal win to qualify for the semi-final. 

Quarter-final: HC Vardar Skopje (MKD) vs Naft-O-Gas-Gachsaran (IRI) 30:22 (15:10)

HC Vardar were the strong favourites to claim the victory in what was the maiden IHF Super Globe match for both sides – and they delivered on those expectations with a decisive eight-goal win that set up a semi-final match against FC Barcelona for day two of competition in Doha. 

Naft-O-Gas-Gachsaran were just in front through the opening minutes before Igor Karacic pulled Vardar in front to 5:4 on a counter attack. Vardar played a 5-1 defensive system that helped them capitalise on Gachsaran’s attacking errors, but they held only a narrow edge until the 20-minute mark. 

At that point Vardar quickly opened the gap, taking an 11:8 advantage just inside the last 10 minutes of the half and holding a five-goal lead at the break – but considering the intensity at which the Macedonian champions played it was clear they would be able to tighten their hold on the match considerably. 

In the second period Vardar slowly but surely pulled ahead, though they did not play at their highest level as they often missed open chances to score or made uncharacteristic errors. Nevertheless, with 15 minutes remaining the European champions had created a seven-goal score line at 23:16. Gachsaran pushed through to the final buzzer, but Vardar’s victory was never really in question. 

Quarter-final: Füchse Berlin (GER) vs Esporte Clube Pinheiros (BRA) 33:31 (16:14)

The 2015 and 2016 IHF Super Globe champions started their 2017 campaign with a hard-earned two-goal victory that qualified them for the semi-final, where they will meet the winner of the Sydney Uni-Al Sadd clash still to be played. 

The match was level through the first 15 minutes, with the score at 8:8 as the first quarter came to an end. At that point, the defending champions’ game was clearly dominated by two players – centre back Steffen Fäth and right wing Hans Lindberg, who had contributed three goals each. 

The German team opened a two-goal advantage with a counter attack goal scored by Ignacio Plaza Jiminez in the 17th minute. Pinheiros 6-0 defence could not contain Berlin’s attack led by creative Petar Nenadic and back court shooters like Marko Kopljar, and it seemed the European team were ready to run away with the momentum. 

In the 21st minute Pinheiros goalkeeper Marcos Santos saved a penalty attempt that kept the score at 9:12 – but perhaps the European team relaxed a little too much while their opponents did not decrease the pressure, because the Pan American team soon came back. Pinheiros reduced the score line to one goal with just over a minute left until the break before Nenadic added the last of half to regain a two-goal advantage for Berlin. 

Pinheiros worked hard through the opening minutes of the second period and were rewarded when they levelled at 16:16 seven minutes into the period. The score remained locked as the clock ticked on, with Pinheiros taking the lead (23:22) as the last quarter began off a fast break scored by Arthur Flosi after Santos made a difficult save. 

From that point it was a one-for-one match, with the score still equal at 27:27 in the 53rd when Santos saved another penalty, against Nenadic. Less than two minutes later the German side created an important two-goal distance however, when right wing Mattias Zachrisson scored a fast break that took Berlin in front to 30:28. That was the decisive moment, and the two-time champions held on to the final whistle to finish with the same score line. 

Quarter-final: Al Sadd (QAT) vs Sydney Uni Handball Club (AUS) 33:25 (14:11)

Considering Al Sadd’s squad featured the likes of 2015 IHF Men’s World Championship silver medallists Danijel Saric and Abdulla Al-Karbi, it was clear from the outset that Sydney Uni Handball Club were in for a tough task in their opening match. The Australian side kept up with the pace of the game through the opening 10 minutes, though they trailed by three goals after five minutes (1:4) before coming back. 

The six-time Oceania champions began to find their own game and closed the gap to two by the time the clock showed 10 minutes. Al Sadd remained in control with a steady two to three-goal lead for some minutes, but Sydney Uni continued fighting and were rewarded with a one-goal deficit thanks largely to the performance of their goalkeeper Tomasz Szalkucki (36% in the first half). 

As the 20-minute mark approached Al Sadd created a more decisive advantage of three goals (11:8), and Sydney coach Lionel Puyhardy called his first time-out. The hosts kept the same score line through to the half-time whistle however, but Sydney Uni left for the break still with a strong chance to decrease the deficit. 

A suspension for Pierre Bonnin in the opening minutes of the half did not help Sydney’s chances, and while he was off the court Al Sadd pulled further ahead to lead 18:14 as the Australian side received another two minutes – this time for Luka Krajnc. When Sydney Uni returned to full strength the hosts had taken firm control with a six-goal score line that appeared to decide the semi-finalists.  

The same difference remained as Puyhardy called a time-out just inside the last quarter of the game (18:24), and though Sydney fought hard they simply could not reduce it. Al Sadd had replaced Saric with Rasheed Yusuff between the posts, and he made a spectacular save on a fast break in the 54th that kept his team in front by six at 29:23, while at the other end of the court Maikkel Takken had come into goal. 

In the 57th minute Bonnin received a red card after three suspensions and as he left the court it was clear the game was over for his team. Al Sadd celebrated an eight-goal win at the buzzer and with it a place in the semi-finals, where they will meet Berlin.