MATCH REVIEW: Disappointment for Issy Paris as they concede first leg lead on home court against determined Höör
Swedes snatch Challenge Cup on away goals
Issy were all set to celebrate their first European Cup triumph, but Höor came and spoiled the party on Sunday. After a home loss the week before, the Swedes won in Paris to take the Challenge Cup on away goals, after the sides were level on aggregate.
Women’s Challenge Cup Final, second leg
Issy started the game perfectly, thanks to a strong defence and to goals on fast breaks, and had soon created a gap of five goals, leading 6:1 after 10 minutes. But a quick time out from Niklas Harris, Höor's coach, changed the face of the game.
Increased efficiency in attack, and with a defence much more compact in front of Stine Oftedal, Issy's main attacking weapon, the Swedes came back into the game, slowly but surely.
From a six-goal gap, Höor narrowed it to just one by half-time. With Oftedal taken care of, no one else from the Issy camp could take offensive responsibility, allowing Nordstrand, the Swedish goalkeeper, to add plenty of saves to her stats, while line player Linberg was converting easy opportunities into goals, scoring six on the night.
The second half was a real handball thriller. When Issy extended their lead to three goals soon after the break, it was the only time the French appeared in control in this game. Höor’s defense, aggressive but fair, was piling on the pressure and ten minutes from the end of the game, the visitors were leading 21:19, tying the two teams on aggregate.
Backed by the 1,700 fans, Issy came back into the game and Mordal, then Signate put the two teams level at 21:21.
However, Höor showed more confidence and despite Attingré saving everything she could, the Swedes gained a two-goal advantage with less than one minute remaining on the clock.
Issy-Paris had one last chance to grab the win, but Nordström saved to give Höor the title.
Arnaud Gandais, on the back of his second lost European final in a row, was clearly unhappy: "We had a plan, and the girls didn't stick to it. We panicked, and in the key moments of the game, especially the last five minutes, Höor played better than us. Congratulations to them.”
Stine Oftedal, Issy's centre back, could not find the words to explain the loss: "I don't know what happened. They fought like lionesses, and they probably wanted it more. They took confidence as the game went on, whereas ours was going downwards. It's a huge disappointment.”
Of course, Niklas Harris, Höor's coach, was more than delighted with the first European title for his club: “I had the feeling that we could do something here, but to actually make it is beyond words. I want to congratulate Issy, who forced us to play our best handball, but first and foremost my girls, whom I am so proud of. It's a real achievement for Swedish handball.”
Photo credit: Kevin Domas
TEXT: Kevin Domas / cor
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