Kiel win extra-time thriller to face Barça in the final
What a thriller, what a roller-coaster ride. After 70 minutes and 71 goals, THW Kiel made it to the final of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2020 after beating Telekom Veszprém HC 36:35 after extra time.
For the eighth time in history and for the fourth time in Cologne, Kiel clinched their berth for an EHF Champions League final. Kiel had been ahead by six goals, then were down by four, missed the last shot, but then scored the final goal. It was the fifth match and the third semi-final at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 since 2010 lasting more than 60 minutes.
On Tuesday, the 2007, 2010 and 2012 winners will lock horns with record winners Barça - the third time the two meet in the final. On the other hand, Veszprém have to wait at least five more months to make the dream of their first ever EHF Champions League trophy come true - they face PSG in the 3/4 placement match on Tuesday.
THW Kiel (GER) vs Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) 36:35 (29:29, 18:13)
- in the first half, Kiel’s defence was outstanding, while Veszprém did not score for 10 minutes - and THW pulled ahead from 12:10 to 17:10
- Kiel lost their pace completely early in the second half, and Veszprém took the upper hand thanks to a clear improvement at both ends of the court to level the result at 24:24 in minute 45
- after a 7:0 run, Veszprém seemed to be on the way to the final at 28:24, before Kiel struck back with another 5:0 run to take the lead again at 29:28
- Kiel had the last chance in the regular time, but Sander Sagosen failed in a direct free throw
- Niclas Ekberg scored Kiel’s last two goals with his semi-final strikes six and seven - and now tops the scorer list of the 2019/20 season with 77 goals
- Ekberg also blocked Veszprém’s last chance, a direct free-throw by Petar Nenadic
Filip Jicha’s first final as a coach
Filip Jicha won the VELUX EHF FINAL4 twice as a THW Kiel player in 2010 and 2012. Now the Czech has the chance to take his first international trophy as the club’s coach.
His last club as a player - and the last club he played for in Cologne - will be his opponents: Barça. In 2010, he was Kiel’s top scorer in the final against the Catalans; in 2019, Jicha was THW’s assistant coach when Kiel won the EHF Cup; in 2020, he steered Kiel to their first German Bundesliga trophy after five years. So maybe Tuesday will be another night to remember for him in Kiel’s 300th Champions League match.
It was a roller-coaster ride for us. We played a strong first half, but then gave the whole match from our hands between minute 30 and 50. Fortunately, our coach managed to change our direction again.
In the end it just wasn’t enough. It’s hard when you lose six goals, you need a lot of energy to turn the match around. We almost managed to do that but in the end we just came up short. It’s hard to say something smart right now because you almost make it and then you come up short. But this is handball, this is Köln.