THW Kiel's winning run ends after 501 days
Two weeks before the Group Phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League starts, Füchse Berlin made history in the German Bundesliga: Cheered by more than 9,000 fans in their Max-Schmeling-Halle they ended the superb series of victories notched up by defending VELUX EHF Champions League and Bundesliga champions THW Kiel.
After exactly 501 days and 40 straight victories, it was the first time Kiel have not won a league match since March 2011.
After a thrilling 60 minutes, Berlin celebrated the final result of 26:26 as if they had won the match, while the THW players left the court with their heads held low.
THW were the dominant team for 53 minutes. With the score at 12-9 at half time, they forged ahead to 25:21 seven minutes before the end and seemed to be heading for victory as usual.
But Berlin fought back, equalised with four straight goals, and even after Christian Zeitz had hit the net to make it 26:25 to Kiel, Berlin levelled again 15 seconds from the end with a goal of Bartłomiej Jaszka.
Füchse even had the chance to win after a missed THW pass, but the time for another counter-attack was too short for Berlin’s captain Torsten Laen.
"I already predicted before the start of the season that our winning run would come to an end, and that it will be impossible to win all league matches like we did last season," said THW coach Alfred Gislason.
"I am quite satisfied with the way we played. We took an away point at one of the main contenders for the German championship."
But THW captain Marcus Ahlm felt differently, and added: "Everybody gets the result he deserves, I am not satisfied at all with a draw. Every tie is a lost point to me."
On the other hand the Füchse players were highly emotional.
"We showed the passion we were missing in the first few matches and we are now starting to be more consistent," Berlin manager Bob Hanning said. "It is always great to take at least a point from Kiel,"
And Füchse player Mark Bult added: "We showed an incredible fighting spirit and deserved to win this point."
On 30 September both participants in the 2012 VELUX EHF FINAL4 start their new seasons in the VELUX EHF Champions League.
Berlin are at home against Belarusian champions Dinamo Minsk in their opener, Kiel begin with the same fixture as they had at the end of the 2011/12 season in the 2012 VELUX EHF FINAL4 final – away at Spanish runners-up Atlético Madrid.
TEXT: Björn Pazen