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VELUX EHF Champions League record winner beat Atletico Madrid in the rematch after five goal deficit one week ago

Miraculous Barcelona turn the page

FC Barcelona Intersport have clinched their berth for the eleventh semi-final of the VELUX EHF Champions League in their club history. The record champions (seven trophies) eliminated Atlético Madrid in the all-Spanish quarter-finals. After the 20:25 defeat in the Spanish capital, Barcelona were fully dominant on home ground on Saturday (27 April) as they beat their domestic rivals 32:24 (15:9) only four days after becoming Spanish champions for the 20th time.

Like THW Kiel, who qualified by winning in Veszprém before, Barcelona are part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 for the third time after 2010 (final defeat against Kiel) and 2011 (final triumph against Atlético). Madrid missed the VELUX EHF FINAL4 for the first time after three straight appearances at Cologne – and missed the semi-final of the European top flight for the first time since 2007.

FC Barcelona Intersport (ESP) vs. Atlético Madrid (ESP) 32:24 (15:9)
First leg: 20:25

Barcelona played incredible first 22 minutes, as the record winners of the premier continental club competition allowed their opponents only four (!) goals in this time, leading already by 12:4. For the first time the Catalans had virtually been qualified for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne in minute 17. When the score was 9:3, the five goals deficit from the first leg had been caught-up. As goalkeeper Danijel Šarić showed a world class performance, he enabled his team-mates to run a never ending series of counter-attacks towards the goal of Jose Javier Hombrados. And mainly it was Victor Tomas, who scored those easy goals, which deeply hurt the Madrid confidence.

But the three times champions found their way back into the match, reducing the gap from 4:12 to 9:15 at the break, still having their fate in their hand. When they scored for 10:15 right after the starting whistle, Madrid had reached the distance, which could bring them to Cologne at that moment.

But like in the first half, Barcelona re-started their “storm”. Striking a 7:1 series (finished by a brilliant counter attack of Juanin Garcia) and stopping the Atlético attackers nearly completely, the fans in Palau Blaugrana went crazy, when their team were away by 22:11 – the first 11 goal distance in the match, though Barca were at two man down at this time.

Only Atlético line player Julen Aguinagalde was able to score in this time – but his goals were something like the wake-up call for Madrid, struggling hard for their last chance to win a title in this season. They improved their defence, getting closer again to 18:24 with still ten minutes on the clock.

When Kiril Lazarov scored his sixth goal for 27:21 with five minutes left, it was confirmed that Barcelona needed to win by a six goal margin due to the away goals rule.

The final stages were on the edge, Barca away by six goals, Madrid trying everything to score. But finally the quarter-finals were decided in aggregate, when Tomas scored the 31:24 after a counter-attack 120 seconds before the final buzzer – and Palau Blaugrana was a party zone.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br