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02.06.2013, 20:34◄ last page     

HSV raise their first VELUX EHF Champions League trophy after extra-time victory over Barcelona

Hamburg win thrilling final

The final of the 2012/13 VELUX EHF Champions League had it all: 70 minutes full of tension, full of fight and full of the final glory for HSV Hamburg.

To view the photo gallery click HERE.

Never before had a final at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 been decided in extra-time, on Sundaynight (2 June) HSV raised the trophy after a 30:29 win after extra-time against EHF Champions League record winners, FC Barcelona, Intersport.

It was the biggest success in the club's history, and the biggest party ever for HSV Hamburg as the team of coach Martin Schwalb made it from the wild card tournament straight to the trophy of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

In their first final they showed passion and pure fight for 70 minutes. Match winner was goalkeeper Johannes Bitter with 17 saves. HSV Hamburg's Hans Lindberg was awarded top scorer of this EHF Champions League season with 101 goals.

The first half showed the spectators of two strong defences, both of them showing maximum intensity. Like in their victorious semi-final against KS Vive Targi Kielce, FC Barcelona Intersport had built a 'wall of concrete' and especially stopped the ways of Domagoj Duvnjak, who had scored eleven times against Kiel on Saturday.

Hamburg also tried to close all gaps, but could not take Siarhei Rutenka out of the match, who scored four of eleven Barca goals before the break and finally netted in eight times.

Despite their superiority in defence, the Catalans could not manage to outdistance their opponent by more than two goals in the first half and finished with the score at 11:9 for Barcelona.

It took only four minutes until the first three-goal advance had been on the score board: First Danijel Saric saved a penalty from Lindberg, then Victor Tomas finished a turnover with a counter-attack goal to make it 13:10. And Hamburg was weakened even more when line player Igor Vori had to leave the court for some minutes with a knee injury.

But HSV were not shocked at all, but gave their answer with three unanswered goals to equalise again. Due to this fighting spirit they gained the support of nearly everyone present at LANXESS arena.

And flying on those wings HSV took the lead for the first time at 16:15 in the 43rd minute – and Barca coach Xavi Pascual directly reacted by taking a time-out.

Only five minutes later Pascual called his players again, when Hamburg had powered to a 20:18 lead. 2007 world champion, Michael Kraus, boosted his team by three goals and caused problems for the Barcelona defence.

So Pascual changed the goalkeeper from Saric to Arpad Sterbik eleven minutes before the end – a perfect move, as the world champion saved the first three Hamburg shots, renewed the confidence of the Catalans and caused a Hamburg time-out.

But Kraus, who played his last international match for Hamburg, had understood, what to do, the left back was on fire and played his best match ever in the HSV shirt, leading his team to the first four goal lead with the score standing at 24:20 five minutes before the end.

But still nothing was decided, as Hamburg had two sent off the court with 2-minute suspensions – and Barcelona reduced to 22:24.

Hamburg became nervous, and when Tomas scored for the sixth time to make it 24:24 two and half minutes before the end, the Catalans seemed to have a psychological advantage.

The final minute of the regular time was as if it had been taken from Hitchcock thriller: Kraus hits the post, Sterbik saves against Lindberg and four seconds before the end, Barca reveive a free throw, but Bitter saved against Rutenka – the first ever extra-time in the history of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 had to decide.

A double strike of Duvnjak paved the way to the 28:26 lead after the first five minutes. But Barca returned, equalising at 29-all again with three minutes to play.

When Lindberg netted in by penalty for 30:29, Hamburg had the joker in their hands, and when Bitter twice saved brilliantly, they were close – but finally could celebrate when a direct free throw of Rutenka was blocked with the final whistle.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts

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