ABC/UMinho hold on to win maiden European trophyArticle
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FINAL REVIEW: Benfica give their all in the all-Portuguese Challenge Cup Final, but the team from Brage do enough over 120 minutes of handball to take the title
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ABC/UMinho hold on to win maiden European trophy

It was not the first time either team competed in a Challenge Cup Final and the nature of this pairing meant one thing was garanteed: for the second time in history, a Portuguese team was lifting the European trophy.

In the end, the victory went to ABC/Uminho, who held on to their first leg advantage.

Challenge Cup Final, second leg
ABC/UMinho vs SL Benfica 25:29 (11:11)
First leg 28:22, Agg 53:51

ABC/UMinho had an important six-goal advantage from the first leg and this Saturday, with their home full of enthusiastics spectators and the ‘Yellow fever’ well represented, Carlos Resende’s team finally won their first European trophy from four European finals.

SL Benfica wanted revenge and got off to a better start. The attack of Mariano Ortega’s team was more effective in the beggining and Benfica also took advantage of ABC/UMinho mistakes to lead for most of the first half.

Goalkeeper Humberto Gomes was again a key player for ABC and he prevented Benfica from getting more than a four-goal advantage. At 24 minutes, Hugo Rocha equalised for the first time and when the second half started the teams were tied at 11:11.

Carlos Resende’s team improved in beginning of the second half and was ahead in the game for the first time seconds after the whitle thanks to a goal from Pedro Spínola.

From there, Braga’s team lost the lead at 46 minutes 19:20. The final minutes were very balanced and five minutes to the whitle the Yellow fever started celebrating, Carlos Resende made some changes in the line up which allowed Benfica to go four goals ahead, but that was not enough.

Humberto Gomes shone for ABC with a spectacular performance between the posts, while Diogo Branquinho and Miguel Pereira were the top scorers with five goals each. Benfica’s top scorer with six goals was Belone Moreira.

Benfica coach Mariano Ortega bemoaned the first leg loss on the back of his team’s improved performance.

“We had a good start but last Saturday we lost by six goals. We were really close today but we couldn't close the deficit.

“We had an advantage in the first half, ABC improved in the second half and in the end we got ahead again but it was not enough.”

Victorious coach Resende was full of praise for his charges.

“I have to congratulate my players, Portuguese handball for producing two finalists as well as our fans and everybody of the club.

“I am very happy with this trophy and the result of my players’ sacrifice. We know the importance of this trophy and I am very emotional. The support of our fans and the energy we got from them today was increadible.”

Photo credit: Federação de Andebol de Portugal

TEXT: Filipa Sousa / cor