Lindberg and Stochl steer Berlin to trophy matchArticle
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SEMI-FINAL REVIEW: The EHF Cup 2014/15 winners take revenge for last year’s final defeat against Göppingen, setting up a clash versus Saint-Raphael to decide the title.
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Lindberg and Stochl steer Berlin to trophy match

Füchse Berlin will face Saint-Raphael Var Handball in the Ottostadt Magdeburg EHF Cup Finals 2018 trophy match on Sunday. Velimir Petkovic’s team won the all-German semi-final against defending champions Frisch Auf Göppingen by three goals, and now aim for their second title in this competition.

Just like the game before it, the second semi-final clash – a rematch of the 2017 final in Göppingen – was on edge for 60 minutes.

"Rolf Brack had prepared Göppingen very well and used the nine-day break they had to adapt their tactics to us. His side had an answer for any of our actions. Rolf is an experienced coach and he knew exactly that they needed to speed up the pace," said Berlin coach Velimir Petkovic after the victory. "They hunted us from the start, and we were two metres behind them constantly. After the break, my team showed character and proved why we are third ranked in Germany. We have made it to the final, now we want to win it."

• Füchse coach Velimir Petkovic takes his first international victory against his former club
• Like in the first semi-final, the top scorers for both sides are wings: Marcel Schiller (Göppingen/six) and Hans Lindberg (Berlin/nine)
• With a total of 76 goals, Lindberg is three ahead of Saint-Raphael’s Raphael Caucheteux as the top scorers of the EHF Cup 2017/18

Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER) vs Füchse Berlin (GER) 24:27 (13:13)

It was a tough fight, but in the end, Füchse were a little bit more clever and efficient – and had the better goalkeeper, Petr Stochl, who saved 13 shots.

The half-time result of 13:13 was an accurate reflection of the first 30 minutes. Partly, Göppingen were the better side; at other times, it was the Foxes – and in general, the first half was fully level. The defending champions pulled ahead to 10:7 and 13:10, mainly thanks to their strong defence, goalkeeper Primoz Prost and the goals of left wing Marcel Schiller.

But, thanks to a triple strike, Berlin turned the tide in the last three minutes before the break. The main reason for the upswing was the change of goalkeeper from unlucky Silvio Heinevetter to Czech veteran Stochl, who will play his last international match tomorrow, before he ends his career.

Stochl’s side had the better start to the second half, forging ahead to 16:14 – but then 20-year-old Sebastian Heymann took the responsibility for Göppingen and claimed a 20:19 advantage for his side.

The match became like waves in the sea, going up and down: First Berlin scored three goals in a row for 22:20, but after missing a penalty shot against Prost, the Foxes lost the advantage and awoke the defending champions, who then levelled the result.

Five minutes before the end, Berlin missed the chance to take another three-goal advantage, instead conceding for 24:25. The match was on the edge, and both side were quite nervous, missing many opportunities in the final stages.

80 seconds before the end, Göppingen coach Rolf Brack took his final timeout, with his team down by 24:26 – but his side caused a turnover in the next attack, and the gate to the final was wide open for Berlin. When Lindberg scored his ninth goal for 27:24, the deal was sealed.

"This game was tight until the end. We had an amazing defence for 60 minutes. We were ahead by three goals in the first half. When Berlin scored three times in a row, this was the turnaround of this game. Then Petr Stochl became the man of the match. We caused too many mistakes, as we were under stress. Berlin won the match through defence," said Göppingen back Allan Damgaard.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg