The era of Xavier Sabate as coach of Telekom Veszprém ended on a winning note. The Hungarian champions beat EHF Champions League record winners FC Barcelona Lassa in the 3/4 placement match of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne 34:30.
3/4 PLACEMENT MATCH: Telekom Veszprém (HUN) vs FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) 34:30 (18:17)
The Veszprém fans in the stands chanted and clapped their hands while their players celebrated the finish to their trip to Cologne with a win. In their fourth straight participation at the VELUX EHF FINAL4, Telekom Veszprém took third position for the first time, after two final defeats in the last two years and a fourth rank in 2014.
Beating FC Barcelona 34:30 on Sunday was the revenge for the defeat in the 2015 final and the placement match defeat in 2014.
On the other hand, Barcelona finished in their weakest-ever rank in their sixth appearance after winning the trophy twice in Cologne.
Veszprém showed more will and determination in the initial period, while FC Barcelona started with a fully rotated line-up compared to their 26:25 semi-final defeat against Vardar on Saturday.
Thanks to the goals and inspiration of their two masterminds Mate Lekai and Aron Palmarsson, the Hungarian record champions forged ahead to 8:5 and 12:8 (18th minute).
But things changed when, firstly, Barcelona coach Xavi Pascual took his team time-out, and then Gonzalo Perez de Vargas replaced Borko Ristovski between the Barca posts. Boosted by Timothy N’Guessan and Aitor Arino, the Catalans managed to level the result again at 16:16 – and had stopped the Veszprém train.
In the first 10 minutes of the second half, Barca tried hard to take the lead, but could not get ahead. One reason was the performance of Veszprém’s goalkeeper Roland Mikler, who at least was on the same level as Perez de Vargas.
With the two former Barcelona players Laszlo Nagy and Cristian Ugalde on fire and thanks to an extremely high scoring rate of powerful line player Andreas Nilsson and a stable defence, Veszprém scored five straight goals to make it 27:22 in the 47th minute, and were not interrupted by another Barca team time-out.
In the final minutes Palmarsson showed his brilliant skills, becoming Veszprém’s match-winner in the farewell match of coach Xavier Sabate, who will be replaced by Ljubomir Vranjes in the summer.
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