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30.05.2015, 20:11
Veszprem make history, reach final
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MATCH REVIEW: Hungarian side beat Kiel to reach their first VELUX EHF Champions League final since 2002.
 

Veszprem make history, reach final

MKB-MVM Veszprem made history on Saturday by becoming the first club not from Germany or Spain to reach the VELUX EHF Champions League Final since 2004.

Antonio Carlos Ortega's side managed to break the curse with a 27:31 semi-final success against Kiel, roared on by their fans among a sell-out 19,750 crowd at the VELUX FINAL4 in Cologne.

"We played a great but hard match against Kiel, but it was very difficult. They have a very professional team and built their game on our mistakes. Our attack wasn't successful in the first period, we had to corrected it in the second half, when we played better and now we got an opportunity to become champions. It will be really hard match but we would like to win.

Playing against Kiel in Germany was a special challenge. It was like a home match for them.

THW had beaten the Hungarian side in the 2013 quarter-finals and at the next stage in 2014, but must settle for a place in the bronze medal match in 2015.

Veszprem meanwhile will play in their first Champions League final since 2002, when they were beaten by Magdeburg.

FC Barcelona stand between Veszprem and the title, and like in the Spanish's side semi-final, it was the goalkeeper who stole the show as Mirko Alilovic improved after a weak start and saved 14 shots.

The Hungarian side's top scorer was Momir Ilic, who now tops the competition's goalscoring charts after his eight strikes took his season tally to 109, two goals ahead of Barcelona’s Kiril Lazarov.

Kiel were paced by nine goals from Aron Palmarsson, who is set to join Veszprem next season.

Semi-final 2: THW Kiel (GER) vs. MKB-MVM Veszprem (HUN) 27:31 (13:13)

The first half soon developed into a battle for every centimetre and every ball. Seven suspensions demonstrated the aggressive defence on both sides and each coach saw their main defenders punished with two suspensions during the first 23 minutes - Renato Sulic for Veszprem and Rene Toft Hansen for Kiel.

The German side had the better start, jumping out to a 6:3 lead, thanks to the saves from Andreas Palicka and five goals from Aron Palmarsson, who will join Veszprem next season.

The Hungarian side had initially struggled with THW's 3-2-1 defence, as only Laszlo Nagy managed to break through.

But when goalkeeper Alilovic improved and Veszprem had found their rhythm, the distance dissolved goal by goal. Boosted by their vociferous fans – Kiel experienced anything but a home atmosphere in Cologne – the Hungarian side equalised and even took an two-goal advantage. But after 30 close, and combative, minutes a 13:13 tie was a fair reflection.

THW started the second half by missing three chances, conceding three counter attack goals to fall 13:16 behind – sparking excitement among the Veszprem fans. Kiel’s coach Alfred Gislason had seen enough after only four-and-a-half minutes and took his timeout.

But nothing changed. His team was out of control, had lost their concentration in attack and Alilovic shut up shop, providing his teammates with the platform to move 21:17 in front, despite missing three penalty shots.

"Mirko, Mirko”, was the roar from the frenetic Veszprem fans, who knew who to thank for their commanding lead - which could have already proved decisive, had MKB-MVM not failed in several counter attacks.

"Our fans were fantastic and we say a big thank you for their fantastic support in the semi-final and the season," Veszprem's captain Laszlo Nagy said.

But Vesprem were much more efficient than their opponents in the back court positions. Gergö Ivancsik too, played the match of his life, profiting from Alilovic’s saves and the THW turnovers.

Finally a double strike from the Champions League's top line player Sulic made it the 27:21 and provided Veszprem a perfect base for the last 11 minutes, sparking THW's nervousness as Gislason took his final timeout.

His players tried everything, and brought their fans back to life with four goals in a row – and suddenly the arena was behind the German side, again at 25:27 – but the clock was ticking against THW.

With two-and-a-half minutes to go, Jicha had great chances to reduce the deficit but Alilovic’s save of the day ended any lingering hopes of THW reaching their eighth EHF Champions League final.

After winning the SEHA Liga final tournament on their home floor several weeks ago, Veszprem now have the chance complete a perfect season.

Check the match gallery here


TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
 
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