Veszprem need extra time to make it to their third finalArticle
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SEMI-FINAL REVIEW: Mikler, Ilic and the brilliant defence were the keys to leave Kiel behind for the second straight time

Veszprem need extra-time to make it to their third final

Like in 2015, MVM Veszprem eliminated THW Kiel in the VELUX EHF Champions League semi-final, but in contrast to the previous year, now the Hungarian champions needed an extra-time to beat the three times EHF Champions league winners. More than 4,000 Veszprem fans were enthusiastic, when the third final appearance in the EHF Champions League after 2002 and 2015 was secured.

So the new Champions league winner will win its first ever title, as neither Veszprem nor Kielce have the trophy so far – and the fifth country of origin will be added to the winners’ list after Spain, Germany, France and Slovenia.

VELUX EHF FINAL4 - semi-final 2:

THW Kiel (GER) vs MVM Veszprem (HUN) 28:31 after extra-time (25:25, 15:12)
Official match report

Kiel were ahead most of the time in the first half – and were the better team except nine goal-less minutes after the 5:2 advance. Veszprem took the advantage and the profit to turn the match around by four consecutive goals including some hammers of Momir Ilic and counter attacks by Gasper Marguc.

But THW found their rhythm again. Led by outstanding Croatian Domagoj Duvnjak and by winning the goalkeeper duel of Niklas Landin vs Mirko Alilovic, the three times Champions League winners turned the tide again. Besides,Veszprem was hit by the early second suspension of their defence boss Timuzsin Schuch, the Hungarian side lacked the stability.

And Kiel shocked Veszprem even more by long distance shots of Marko Vujin, Duvnjak and Christian Dissinger. Right  with the halftime buzzer Duvnjak’s in-flight goal provided Kiel with another three goal advance (15:12).

But everything changed after the break. Kiel again were weak in attack, again did not score for nine minutes, while the Veszprem fans in the arena went crazy. Netting in five straight goals after the break put the Hungarian side ahead by 17:12.

Coach Javier Sabate had found the right words in the locker room – and took a decision, which instantly took its effect: to change the goalkeeper from Alilovic to Roland Mikler. He backed the defence with confidence, and thus Kiel had enormous problems to find the gaps to score in the wall, built by Schuch, Mirsad Terzic and Laszlo Nagy.

“In the first half they lead by three goals, but in the second half we really played better, especially in defence,” said Sabate. “Our goalkeeper Mikler was very good, so we could run, but Kiel were playing as a team. They were leading until the end, but we always believed that we can win. So with some luck and that belief we finally beat them.”

From the noise it was nearly a Veszprem home match now, when the score was 19:17. And this result was like another turning point on the roller coaster. Marguc had the chance for the first three-goal lead for Veszprem, but failed against Landin – then the Dane saved three more times, and instead of a 20:17 it was 19:19, when crunch time had started.

Despite a bruised hip, Momir Ilic was on his high, adding eight goals to his tally (now on 113 strikes), and playing an important role after the break – but he was not the only Serbian to imprint the match, as Kiel’s right back Marko Vujin was on fire too, scoring eight goals. Vujin’s seventh strike provided Kiel with their first lead after minute 39, when he stroke for the 23:22 four minutes before the end.

With 150 seconds to go, all 20,000 spectators were standing and not sitting anymore. Duvnjak marched through to net in for the 25:23 – but still nothing was decided. With the final minute to start, the score was 25:24 for Kiel. THW tried everything to let the clock tick for them. But when Christian Dissinger missed the final shot, Veszprem grabbed the chance, and Marguc netted in with a buzzer beater for the third ever extra-time in the FINAL4 history since 2010.

After the first five minutes, Veszprem were ahead by 28:26 thanks to another buzzer-beater, this time by Croatian Ivan Sliskovic, who replaced Ilic on the left back position. Ugalde added another goal – and with this three goal advance Veszprem dream of their third EHF Champions League final ever became reality, latest when the Spanish wing stroke for the 30:26 less than two minutes before the end.

“It was the sixth time for us as THW Kiel and I wanted to win for the third time – but it was a very bad day for me and for the team,” said Kiel’s Dominik Klein following the match. 

TEXT: Björn Pazen