MATCH REVIEW: Berlin leave brave Velenje behind thanks to goalkeeper Heinevetter and will face Hamburg for the EHF Cup trophy
Füchse complete all-German final on home court
Like Hamburg, like Berlin. Like Bitter, like Heinevetter. After HSV had made it to the EHF Cup final hours previously thanks to the brilliant goalkeeper performance of Johannes Bitter, Füchse Berlin imitated them, backed by the 17 saves of Silvio Heinevetter, but their win was not as emphatic.
The host of the EHF Cup Finals beat the strong youngsters of Gorenje Velenje to reach their first European Cup final. After losing the 2014 semi-final against Pick Szeged on home court, now the dream to win the trophy in Max-Schmeling-Halle can come true on Sunday, when for the fifth time in the history of the EHF Cup (including old version) two German teams meet in the final.
"We are very happy after this tough game. Velenje are a strong team, we had to fight until the last minute. We were well prepared, we could stop their attack quite well," said Füchse coach Dagur Sigurdsson.
Besides the 17 saves of Heinevetter, Fredrik Petersen was a key for the Füchse success, netting seven times. The best Velenje scorer was Marko Dujmovic with five goals.
Velenje will face Danish side Skjern Handbold in the bronze medal match in Berlin.
"Füchse were better than us. In the first half we played very bad defence. Tomorrow is a new game, we must prepare to win, that’s it. We must get our heads clear," said Velenje coach Gregor Cvijic.
EHF Cup Finals, semi-final:
Gorenje Velenje (SLO) vs Füchse Berlin (GER) 24:27 (12:16)
Velenje were a hard nut to crack for Füchse in the first 20 minutes, but the EHF Cup Finals hosts then managed to extend the gap to 15:10. One key was the saves of goalkeeper Silvio Heinevetter, another was the man-to-man-defence against Gorenje’s playmaker Stas Skube, top scorer of the competition. In addition, Iker Romero, who will end his career after this season, took responsibility when the going got tough.
In the initial stages, Berlin (having to replace their regular defence chief Jesper Nielsen) mainly scored through penalties. Fredrik Petersen scored five of six from the penalty line, brought about by Velenje’s defence only able to stop line player Evgeni Pevnov with fouls.
On the other hand, the Slovenians managed to score thanks to their speed and the long-range goals of Dujmovic, but they lacked the alternatives Berlin could count on.
After the break, Heinevetter continued his incredible performance, backing his teammates, who then extended the lead for the first time to six goals at 18:12, forcing an early time-out of Velenje coach Gregor Cvijic after only 34 minutes.
His team improved, but still could not manage to get closer to the Foxes at this stage, who were backed by 7,112 fans in the Max-Schmeling-Halle. Cvijic changed his team a lot, but still Velenje could not reduce the margin to less than three goals. The match would have been decided much earlier, but for goalkeeper Benjamin Buric, who have Heinevetter a run for his money.
Füchse had the chance to seal the deal at 25:20, but failed to capitalise, giving Velenje hope to turn the match around in the remaining seven minutes. Scoring twice, they shook the host, and by the 58th minute the lead had melted to only 26:24.
However, team and fans could celebrate their first European final, when Konstantin Igropoulo scored his sixth goal to make it 27:24 a minute before the final buzzer.
Velenje player Luka Dobelsek was quite satisfied despite the defeat: "Berlin players are physically stronger, this was the biggest difference and they were very well prepared on our game. But we played a good match and I hope that our fans were satisfied with what they saw."
TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
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