Great games in history: One of the craziest comebacks ever
Last Saturday, Telekom Veszprém HC got two crucial points in Group B of the ongoing VELUX EHF Champions League, as they won the home game against PGE Vive Kielce 31:26.
The win was important to Veszprém's efforts to stay in the top of the group, while Kielce still have to fight for their Last 16 berth.
However, the match also made one's thoughts wander back to 29 May 2016, when the same two teams met in one of the most memorable Champions League finals in the 25 years long history of the European top flight.
What made this VELUX EHF FINAL4 final so special was obviously the sensational turn the match took in the last quarter of an hour.
Until then, Veszprém were dominating the final in the LANXESS arena of Cologne completely. Starting off with a 3:0 lead, the Hungarian side moved on to a 17:13 lead at half-time.
The Kielce attacking players seemed to be without tools against the efficient Hungarian 6-0 defence, and after the break, Veszprém increased their lead to no fewer than nine goals at 26:17 and again at 28:19 with less than a quarter of an hour left.
From then on, however, the game took an unbelievable turn.
All of a sudden, Veszprém appeared to be completely unable to get the ball past Slavomir Szmal in the Kielce goal, while the Polish side were scoring goal after goal, making use of a Hungarian goal drought of more than 13 minutes to catch up and get a 29:29 draw.
However, Veszprém's moral had not been completely broken by the Kielce comeback, and the extra time also ended in a stand-off, the score now being 35:35.
Penalty shooting was needed.
After Manuel Strlek, Karol Bielecki and Tobias Reichmann had scored for Kielce, while Momir Ilic, Ivan Sliskovic and Aron Palmarsson had all hit the net for Veszprém, Julen Aguinagalde became the hero who fired home the winning goal for Kielce.
“When shooting a penalty, you have to score a goal. That was my thought at the final penalty shot, and fortunately, it went in.
“This was a title which was won through fight,” found Kielce match winner Julen Aguinagalde after the triumph.
“Of course, this was very disappointing for the team and for Hungary. We had the title in our hands, but still we left with empty hands!” recalled Veszprém's Swedish line player Andreas Nilsson.
Will we see a similar drama on 27 May 2018, when the VELUX EHF FINAL4 of this season is being decided – and what teams will be part of it?
Only time can tell.
Read more stories from the 25 years of the Champions League series:
Great games in history: Viborg's first victory
How queen Görbicz finally completed her quest for the crown
A success story spread all over Europe
Generations chat: Dujshebaev and Janc
The Vikings’ trip to Spain marked the very beginning
From school gyms to sold-out arenas
No mobile phones, a volcanic eruption and a great development
BLOG: Champions League is glocal
Pungartnik’s trip down memory lane to the very beginning