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Date: 8/26/2017

The first 2017 IHF Super Globe semi-final saw a close contest between two-time champions FC Barcelona Lassa and the current European title holders HC Vardar, with the Catalan team recording a three-goal win to book the first spot in the trophy match. Füchse Berlin followed with a decisive victory against Al Sadd, which qualified them for their third consecutive Super Globe final. 

Prior to the semi-finals, Esperance Sportive de Tunis opened the placement round with a clear win versus debutants Naft-O-Gas-Gachsaran, before Esporte Clube Pinheiros followed with a six-goal victory over Sydney Uni Handball Club. Es Tunis and EC Pinheiros will therefore meet in the 5/6 placement match on the final day of competition in Doha, while Sydney Uni and Gachsaran will contest seventh. 

Semi-final: HC Vardar Skopje (MKD) vs FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) 29:32 (12:15)

The rematch of the VELUX EHF Champions League 2016/17 semi-final, which was won by Vardar with a one-goal score line, saw a slow start from the European title holders that left them with a significant deficit to come back from. 

Only two goals were scored in the opening eight minutes, before FC Barcelona pulled ahead by two with a perfect outside shot from right back Dika Mem. At the 10-minute mark the distance remained at two in favour of the record Champions League champions (4:2), and they increased the gap further off a goal from Raul Entrerrios in the 12th that triggered Vardar coach Raul Gonzalez to call a time-out. 

Playing against his former team, Arpad Sterbik served Vardar well between the posts early in the game, keeping Barcelona at bay – though he could not stop Mem from adding his third precise goal just as the first quarter of the match came to an end (6:3 for Barcelona). 

Barcelona’s defence supported by keeper Gonzalo Perez de Vargas was more effective. The Spanish team allowed the Champions League champions only one goal within 10 minutes, while they pulled ahead to lead 9:3. Vardar coach Gonzalez changed his line-up, with Strahinja Milic replacing Sterbik, and his team’s next goal came soon after courtesy of Igor Karacic. 

Slowly Vardar reduced the deficit, helped by a two-minute suspension for Barcelona line player Alexis Borges late in the half. When Barcelona returned to full strength the Champions League champions had come within three goals at 11:14, where the score line stayed as the half-time buzzer sounded. 

It took just over 10 minutes in the second half for Vardar to close the gap to one, and from there it was a close contest. As the clock passed the 50-minute mark the score stood level at 25:25 – but as the last few minutes of the match began Barcelona regained the upper hand with Mem’s sixth goal, which took them back to a two-goal advantage 

Vardar could not recover from that score line so late in the game, and the 2013 and 2014 Super Globe champions were the team to celebrate at the buzzer. 

Semi-final: Al Sadd (QAT) vs Füchse Berlin (GER) 23:30 (13:16)

Defending champions Füchse Berlin were immediately the dominant side, taking a 3:0 advantage before hosts Al Sadd found the goal for the first time. The strong start was a sign of the match to follow, which ended with Berlin securing their third consecutive Super Globe final ticket in a row. 

Berlin keeper Silvio Heinevetter made it clear he would not be easy to beat with several impressive saves in the opening minutes, but the Qatari team soon began to look more threatening. As the first quarter came to a close, Al Sadd decreased the gap to one goal, before levelling in the 17th at 7:7. 

After his excellent performance early in the game, Heinevetter started to have trouble stopping the Qatari side’s shots, while his team faced difficulty against the strong 6-0 defence at the other end. Following the equaliser Al Sadd stayed with their opponents through to the last five minutes of the half, before two suspensions – for Hadi Hazem Hamdoon and Mario Tomic – put Al Sadd at a numerical deficit. Berlin used the last minutes before the break to pull ahead, and held a 16:13 lead when the whistle sounded. 

The hosts spent the second half chasing the deficit, and were not helped by a penalty save from Berlin keeper Petr Stochl in the 39th when the European team led 20:16. Just inside the last 15 minutes Berlin remained clearly in front at 23:18, and it appeared Al Sadd would need something miraculous to overturn the momentum. 

Al Sadd could not find the change they needed. The European team continued to control the match through to the 60th minute, when they celebrated a seven-goal victory and their third consecutive Super Globe final. 

Placement match: Naft-O-Gas-Gachsaran (IRI) vs Esperance Sportive de Tunis (TUN) 28:35 (12:16)

Naft-O-Gas-Gachsaran had a stronger start to the match, taking an early lead before Esperance Sportive de Tunis came back to level the score at 3:3 just before the 10-minute mark. The score remained locked until Es Tunis created the first two-goal advantage at 8:6 in the 18th minute, after which the African team maintained firm control through to the final buzzer, increasing their advantage to a decisive seven goals. 

A key to the strong game from Es Tunis was the performance of goalkeeper Ahmedamine Bedoui, who recorded a 57% save rate in the first half and finished with 46% overall. Both coaches barely changed their line-ups through the first period, at the end of which only 12 players had contributed to the score board. 

Es Tunis took a four-goal lead into the half-time break, and though Gachsaran tried different tactics defensively in an effort to control the strong attack against them, the match belonged to the African team. As the last quarter of the match began, Tunis were in front 27:20 and were on their way to the 5/6 placement match. 

Placement match: Sydney Uni Handball Club (AUS) vs Esporte Clube Pinheiros (BRA) 26:32 (11:16)

Esporte Clube Pinheiros recorded their first victory at the 2017 IHF Super Globe in style, defeating Sydney Uni by a six-goal margin to make their way to the 5/6 play-off against Esperance Sportive de Tunis. Through the first half the match was closely contested, with EC Pinheiros holding a steady one to two-goal advantage after the 10-minute mark, the Brazilian side’s superior strength began to show in the last seven minutes of the first half.  

Sydney Uni started with a Maikel Takken in goal rather than Tomasz Szalkucki, who played almost the entire quarter-final match against Al Sadd. The Dutch keeper made some important saves to record 30% in the first half, but his counterpart Marcos Santos won the competition between the posts with a 45% rate for the opening 30 minutes. 

In final minutes of the first half Pinheiros recorded a 5:1 run that suddenly put Sydney Uni in a dangerous position, leaving them trailing by five goals at the break. When the match resumed Pinheiros were quick to create a six-goal advantage, where the score line stood right through to the whistle. 

Neither team changed their tactics significantly, and though Sydney enjoyed some bright moments they could not decrease the deficit. When the final whistle sounded the Brazilian team celebrated a six-goal victory, leaving Sydney to contest the 7/8 placement match against Naft-O-Gas-Gachsaran.