Barcelona claims back-to-back Men’s Handball Champions League title

The finale produced an epic battle between the two top sides in the EHF Handball Champions League Final Four in Cologne on Sunday (19 June). Defending champions Barcelona took an early lead which saw Vive Kielce playing catchup for the majority of the first half of the clash.

Vive Kielce finally found their breakthrough five minutes before the recess, with MVP Artsem Karalek netting to enforce the stalemate on 12-all.

The Catalans edged ahead, taking a one-goal lead going into the half-time break. The advantage proved precarious as the second half evolved into a tit-for-tat game.

The lead changed throughout the second half, with Vive Kielce striking the first blow after the restart with Uladzislau Kulesh finding the back of the net. Barça sniffed victory as the clock wound down before Karalek landed the equaliser to send the match into extra time.

Extra time ended on a 32-32 draw before the second shootout of the finals decided the winners. Barça goalkeeper Gonzalo Perez de Vargas once again proved his star quality by making the deciding save of the shootout to hand his team and their second consecutive Handball Champions League title.

Goal-hungry Gomez

Barca right wing Alex Gomez bowed out of the clash as the Champions League top scorer with a total of 104 goals throughout the campaign. Gomez contributed to his team’s victory by landing 10 shots in the back of the net, including an all-important penalty goal.

While Gomez was critical in keeping the scoreboard ticking over for Barça, De Vargas was a rock in front of the goal making 12 saves.

Kielce’s keeper Andreas Wolff was equally effective in keeping his team in the fight with a dozen saves to his name, while Karalek netted 4/5 for the Polish side.

THW Kiel beats Telekom Veszprém to settle for bronze

In the curtain raiser German club THW Kiel edged Telekom Veszprém HC of Hungary 37-35 in a penalty shootout for the bronze medal at the EHF Handball Champions League Final Four. Two brilliant saves from Denmark’s Olympic gold medal-winning net Niklas Landin ultimately made the difference to secure the consolation prize for THW Kiel.

At the halfway mark Veszprém was firmly in the driving seat with an 18-14 advantage over the four-time Champions League winners.

The German club clawed their way back into contention in the second half getting within two points shortly after the restart. Rune Dahmke and Nikola Bilyk scored a brace each to get their side back into the game at 21-19.

With 10 minutes left of regulation time the sides were evenly poised before THW Kiel got their noses in front taking a 32-31 lead.

A Kentin Mah A penalty goal at the buzzer levelled the scores on 34-34 which meant the winners would be decided by penalty shootout with THW Kiel coming out on top.

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