Gullden touch leads CSM to a maiden trophy after a shootout thrillerArticle
«Go back

FINAL REVIEW: CSM Bucuresti’s fairy tale campaign ended in a thriller as the Romanian champions equalised twice in the dying seconds and eventually won the final.

Gullden touch leads CSM to a maiden trophy after a shootout thriller

CSM Bucuresti might have been the least favoured team in the Women’s EHF FINAL4 but Kim Rasmussen’s team played two near-perfect games in Budapest to claim the title in their first Champions League season. The tournament's MVP in the CSM's goal Jelena Grubisic and the competition’s top scorer Isabelle Gulldén with amazing 15 goals did most of the job but just like on Saturday the Romanian champion did not have a weak link.

“It’s always easier to play without any pressure. We played both matches without any pressure, not relaxed but just easy. We were playing our game, we enjoyed handball and I think this was our advantage over other teams who have already been here many times,“ Grubisic said after completing an unpexpected Cinderella's story of CSM.

Women’s EHF Champions League - Final:

CSM Bucuresti (ROU) vs Győri Audi ETO KC (HUN) 29:26 after 7m shootout (25:25, 22:22, 13:12)

A tremendous crescendo of noise from both sets of fans put down the referees whistle when the last game of Europe’s elite handball competition threw off in the sold-out Papp László arena.

Duels between Jelena Grubisic and Heidi Löke marked the first minutes of the final but it was also a battle of defences as both teams cemented their walls very well. Löke’s goals were answered by Bella Gulldén, who started the final brightly: until the 16th minute the Swedish superstar was the only CSM player who found the way past Győr’s defence.

When she equalised from the seven-meter line with her fifth goal, she officially overtook Ekaterina Ilina on the top scorers’ chart.

Győr beat Bucuresti home and away in the main round but CSM grew so much in confidence that those two games meant nothing and Győr had to give their all to remain up front against their combative opponents, who were backed by the once again mesmerising Grubisic.

Kari Aalvik Grimsbö also made some important saves but her Croatian counterpart made excellent use of her memories as a Győr player. Ambros Martín made quite a few changes but Győr just couldn’t leave CSM behind, what’s more the Romanian outfit took the lead for the first time in the 30th minute.

"It was a very tough final and it was close and it is very hard to think about it right now. I don't know what to say. Perhaps that we cannot be too hard on ourselves; we need to pick oursleves up again and come back from this and fight for the Hungarian championship," Grimsbö said after the game.

Grubisic continued to dominate Győr’s attacks and despite Eduarda Amorim found a net a couple of times the Hungarian team struggled to score from nine meters out as Bucuresti closed down spaces excellently.

"She played super well, she showed how good of a keeper she is - a super performance from her and her team. But then it all came down to seven meters throws which is really tough," Grimsbö added.

However, Győr’s defence was just as solid and they soon re-took the lead thanks to a pair of fast break goals and Kim Rasmussen was forced to take his second time-out to draw his players’ attention to the importance of tracking back. Bucuresti managed to keep most of Győr’s creative players at bay but not Löke, who was once again unstoppable.

Győr had a one-goal lead upon entering the last five minutes but Gullden equalised with her 13th goal. The thriller continued to the last minute, fifteen seconds from the final whistle Anita Görbicz scored her first goal of the final from the 7-meter line to give Győr the lead but Torstensson’s deflected shot found a way to the net 5 seconds from time and the final went to overtime.

For the last two minutes of regular time Grubisic was replaced by Mayssa Pessoa and while the Brazilian made some nice saves she could not stop Amorim and Knedlikova to give Győr a two-goal lead in the first half of extra-time. Oana Manea drew Bucuresti one back and after Amorim was sent of for a nasty foul on Torstensson the Romanian outfit once again equalised seconds from the end.

Rasmussen continued to shuffle his goalkeepers for the penalty shootout and it was Pessoa who saved Groot’s attempt, and then Löke’s, too to hand the trophy to the Romanian champions.

Bucuresti completed a shock victory beating two favourites in 24 hours and won the Women’s EHF FINAL4 in their first season in the competition. Jelena Grubisic was voted MVP of the FINAL4, the Croatian goalkeeper was simply perfect in both games.

TEXT: Bence Mártha / br