Portland Knows How to Win in the OstseehalleArticle
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Handball history: in 1999, the Spanish team won the only match of the two teams in Ostseehalle. Back then, Buligan was the hero who saved shots from Olsson and Wislander...

Portland Knows How to Win in the Ostseehalle

Two goals are not a great difference in European handball. Accordingly, Portland must travel to Germany to win the second leg of the CL semi-final. A victory in Ostseehalle is not an easy job for any team, but the Spanish were able to do it seven years ago. The situation back then, however, was very different.

The first Champions for Portland

The Kiel coach was already Serdarusic, he had Wislander on his side - photo by www.thw-provinzial.de Portland San Antonio went to Kiel in 1999 as debutants. It was the first time that the club played in the competition. A group of international veteran players formed a really competitive team. The goalkeeper Buligan was leader of the squad, while Errekondo and Kisselev were the central towers of a very strong 6-0 defence. Villaldea, Martín or Olalla were next to them. When the defence worked well, the quick wingers – Barbeito, Mainer and Ambros – had opportunities to score on fastbreaks. There were no changes in attack either, and the well organised team were able to reach the semi-finals of Champions League, the Spanish play-off final and won the Spanish Cup title (the first in the club’s history).

Javier Equisoain’ team faced the 1999 knock-out tie against THW Kiel without too much tension. All the pressure was on the Germans who had been looking for a European title for quite some time. According to the draw, the second leg was played in Pamplona. This little advantage seemed to level the chances. Finally, it turned out to be decisive.

Buligan was the hero

The Spanish coach was also the same, Javier Equisoain - photo by www.thw-provinzial.deThe Romanian international goalkeeper was 38 years old that time, but the match in Ostseehalle proved that age is not important in handball. Buligan saved every possible shot fired by THW players. Kiel had mythical players that season, such as Olsson, Wislander, Lovgen and Perunicic.

Nobody believed in a Spanish victory, but they played a perfect match and won by three goals (21-24) in that historic game. It was definitely the first great game in the European history of Portland.

This victory gave confidence for the Spanish and in the second leg Portland were able to conserve the lead. In a very exciting endgame, Perunicic made an attacking foul against Barbeito and Kiel lost the chance to go on. Portland reached the semi-finals where they lost against Badel Zagreb. It was the first success of Portland San Antonio that paved the road for the future successes.

TEXT: Fernando Urra Goñi