Møller and Mem steer Barça to 12th final
Barça were the favourites before the first semi-final of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2020 in Cologne - and the team of Xavi Pascual stood the pressure on Monday night with a dominant performance.
Paris Saint-Germain HB had the better start, but when Barça changed their goalkeeper from Gonzalo Perez de Vargas to Kevin Møller, the tide turned, as the Dane shut up his shop with a total of 14 saves.
The Spanish side now wait for their opponent in their 12th final in the EHF Champions League – the fifth in the LANXESS arena in Cologne, where they won their most recent of their eight trophies in 2011 and 2015. PSG have now recorded three semi-final losses in four appearances.
Barça (ESP) vs Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA) 37:32 (18:14)
- winning the semi-final at Cologne was Barça’s 22nd straight victory in the EHF Champions League since September 2019 - their balance against PSG now is six victories from seven matches.
- PSG star Mikkel Hansen again missed the chance to win his first ever EHF Champions League trophy
- Paris had the better start (8:5 in minute 10), but then Barça’s Danish goalkeeper Kevin Møller broke their party, turning the tide for a comfortable 18:14 half-time lead
- although they missed many chances right after the re-start, Barça pulled ahead to a 24:18 gap after only 37 minutes
- Dylan Nahi was the top scorer for PSG with nine goals, while Dika Mem scored eight for Barça
Palmarsson’s magic comeback
He was in question for Cologne after an Achilles tendon injury sustained in the last Spanish league match against Irun, but Aron Palmarsson was fit for the EHF FINAL4. The Icelander played an outstanding role in the first semi-final, scoring six goals and adding several assists.
The 30-year-old playmaker now holds the record for VELUX EHF FINAL4 matches with his ninth participation. On Tuesday, he hopes for his third trophy after winning in 2010 and 2012 with THW Kiel, and could even hope for his third MVP award at Cologne after 2014 and 2016.
Palmarsson has scored a total of 58 goals at VELUX EHF FINAL4 events, just seven fewer than all-time top scorer Kiril Lazarov.
PSG played very well and mainly in the very first minutes it was difficult for us, as we had some problems in defence in the first 15 to 20 minutes. But then we got better and ran a lot, this was the important point for us.
Our attack started good more or less, but when we lost too many balls and Barcelona advanced to three, four goals already in the first half, this was the key. After the break it was not possible for us to turn the match as Barça played hard in defence and strong in attack.