THW Kiel win EHF Champions LeagueArticle
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In a dramatic final the Germans defeat Barcelona with a score of 36:34.

THW Kiel wins EHF Champions League

In their fifth EHF Champions League final, for the first time THW Kiel managed to defeat a Spanish team and took the EHF Champions League trophy for the second time after 2007. In a highly tensioned and emotional final of the EHF FINAL4 THW beat FC Barcelona 36:34 (17:20).

Match winners were outstanding Kiel goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer (15 saves) and EHF Champions League top scorer Filip Jicha, who hit the back of the net eleven times, including the last goal. The Kiel sniper finished this season with 119 goals in total. Barcelona was on level, the match was decided only nine seconds before the final whistle.

THW never had won a EHF Champions League final against a Spanish team before, as they had lost against Barcelona (2000) and Ciudad Real (2008, 2009). Top scorer for Barca was Juanin Garcia with 13 goals. This final was the last match in the career of David Barrufet – and the Barca keeper missed his seventh EHF Champions League title very closely, as they were leading with a six goal difference in the middle of the second half.

Cold wind blew outside the arena, it rained in Cologne – but inside the LANXESS Arena it was boilingly hot even before the start. 19,374 spectators – again a new record for European Cup matches – created a sensational atmosphere.

Four players left their marks in the first 30 minutes – the two goalkeepers and two field players. Barcelona’s wing player Juanin Garcia was cold as ice from the penalty spot – and scored five times with penalties, in total seven goals before the break. But he wasn’t the top scorer of the first 30 minutes: EHF Champions League top scorer Filip Jicha hit the back of the net eight times.

Barca goalkeeper David Barrufet and his saves were key factors in the last match of his career that the Catalans led 20:17 at the break. On the other side Thierry Omeyer got better and better into the game. His three consecutive saves were the starting point for THW catch up race, after the intermediate score of 20:15 for Barca in minute 19. The first half was imprinted by a great number of goals, full speed, tough fights in direct duels and weak defense sides. Barca was in lead constantly. After the 5:4 Barrufet replaced Saric in the goal, saved some shots – and the Spaniards extended their lead.

In the first minutes of the second half THW was extremely nervous in attack, lost many balls, shot weak – and only Omeyer saved them from an early decision. On the other hand Barcelona played highly efficient and with their typical easiness. The tenth goal of Garcia brought them the 23:18, and Kiel took their time-out in minute 40 and the score of 24:19 for Barca. The Catalans played cool and clever in attacks, waited for their chances and had much more power, concentration and freshness than Kiel – and extended the lead even to six goals. Still Barrufet played on highest level.

But after the score of 25:19 Kiel started fighting as if it was for their life, supported by their fans. Thanks to Omeyer, who stood like a wall again, they reduced the gap goal by goal, and latest at the 26:24 in minute 47 the hall went crazy. Barca lost their rhythm and didn’t find any more holes in the THW defense. The spectators stood on their chairs, animated by Omeyer to cheer – and this was the additional power to the Kiel players.

With a direct free throw hammer Christian Zeitz equalized for the first time in minute 52. After another Omeyer save Lundström scored for the first Kiel lead – 30:29 - and the atmosphere had reached it’s climax, as THW had scored a 11:4 series in only ten minutes and was back to life.

And Barcelona was really overran – they had to wait and see that Kiel extended the lead to 33:30 in minute 56, as they failed against Omeyer. With his tenth goal Jicha scored the 34:32 three minutes before the end, and as Garcia failed with the tenth penalty for the first time Kiel was very close to the new EHF Champions League trophy. Still 50 seconds to go: Romero scores for Barca – 34:35. 16 seconds before the end Filip Jicha had finished the Spanish curse of THW with his eleventh goal and the final score of 36:34, what meant the second EHF Champions League title for the Germans.

TEXT: Björn Pazen