Aalborg book EHF FINAL4 ticket despite defeat
Despite suffering a 33:29 defeat in the second leg of their EHF Champions League Men quarter-final on Wednesday evening, Aalborg Håndbold made history in a true thriller against SG Flensburg-Handewitt.
After their 26:21 victory in the first leg, Aalborg seemed to be on their way to Cologne when they took an 11:7 intermediate lead in the first half. However, Flensburg then had an incredible run after the break and looked as though they were heading for an EHF FINAL4 berth when they took the lead on aggregate for the first time.
Finally, in a tense finish, Felix Claar scored the last shot of the match to make the Danish side jump for joy.
QUARTER-FINAL, SECOND LEG
SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs Aalborg Håndbold (DEN) 33:29 (14:16)
First leg result: 21:26. Aalborg won 55:54 on aggregate.
- for the ninth time in club history, Flensburg were eliminated in a Champions League quarter-final, while Aalborg proceeded to the EHF FINAL4 in what was their first quarter-final
- in minute 15, Aalborg were ahead 11:7 and their aggregate lead had increased to nine goals.
- Flensburg did not profit from their goalkeepers before the break, as neither Benjamin Buric nor Torbjoern Bergerud saved many shots
- however, everything changed after the break: Bergerud stood like a wall, saving 12 shots in 30 minutes, and Flensburg used their high speed to turn the tide from 14:16 to 21:17 in minute 38
- 14 minutes before the end, when Johannes Golla netted his eighth goal for 26:20, Flensburg held the aggregate lead for the first time in the match
- from that moment on, the match was on the edge. 55 seconds before the end, with the score at at 33:28, Flensburg needed only one more goal to go to Cologne. But they did not regain possession, and Claar scored Aalborg's final goal just before the buzzer
For the fourth time no German team at Cologne
From the premiere in 2010 of the EHF FINAL4 in Cologne to the fifth edition in 2014, German sides won the EHF Champions League four times: THW Kiel (2010, 2012), HSV Hamburg (2013) and SG Flensburg-Handewitt (2014).
But then this German dominance came to and from 2014 until Kiel’s third success in December 2020, no German team made it to the final. Even worse for the Bundesliga: in 2017, 2018 and 2019, no German team even qualified for the event. Now, as Kiel (beaten by PSG) and Flensburg were eliminated on the same day within hours, the 2021 EHF FINAL4 will be the fourth without a German team.
We are finally here (EHF FINAL4) for the first time in the club’s history. It is an opportunity to prove that we belong there.
I’m really disappointed. We were able to fight back from the deficit in Aalborg. With the morale we had we thought that we could do it but all credit to Aalborg.