Füchse Berlin, Barcelona set up blockbuster final
27 Aug 2017 - 16:29
Defending champions Füchse Berlin kept their title hopes alive after foiling a gutsy display by hosts Al Sadd (30-23) in yesterday’s semi-final of the 2017 IHF Super Globe Championship at the Duhail Sports Complex in Doha. The boys from Berlin will now meet the Spanish giants FC Barcelona Lassa who made it to the final after a close 32-29 win against HC Vardar Skopje of Macedonia.
Füchse Berlin were immediately the dominant side against Al Sadd, taking a 3-0 advantage before the hosts found the goal for the first time. The strong start was a sign of the match to follow, which ended with Berlin securing their third consecutive Super Globe final ticket in a row.
Berlin keeper Silvio Heinevetter made it clear he would not be easy to beat with several impressive saves in the opening minutes, but the Qatari team soon began to look more threatening. As the first quarter came to a close, Al Sadd decreased the gap to one goal, before levelling in the 17th at 7-7.
After his excellent performance early in the game, Heinevetter started to have trouble stopping the Qatari side’s shots, while his team faced difficulty against the strong 6-0 defence at the other end. Following the equaliser Al Sadd stayed with their opponents through to the last five minutes of the half, before two suspensions – for Hadi Hazem Hamdoon and Mario Tomic – put Al Sadd at a numerical deficit. Berlin used the last minutes before the break to pull ahead, and held a 16-13 lead when the whistle sounded.
The hosts spent the second half chasing the deficit, and were not helped by a penalty save from Berlin keeper Petr Stochl in the 39th when the European team led 20-16. Just inside the last 15 minutes Berlin remained clearly in front at 23-18, and it appeared Al Sadd would need something miraculous to overturn the momentum.
Al Sadd could not find the change they needed. The European team continued to control the match through to the 60th minute, when they celebrated a seven-goal victory and their third consecutive Super Globe final.
Earlier, the first semi-final saw a slow start from the European title holders Barcelona that left them with a significant deficit to come back from.
Only two goals were scored in the opening eight minutes, before FC Barcelona pulled ahead by two with a perfect outside shot from right back Dika Mem. At the 10-minute mark the distance remained at two in favour of the record Champions League champions (4-2), and they increased the gap further off a goal from Raul Entrerrios in the 12th that triggered Vardar coach Raul Gonzalez to call a time-out.
The Spanish team allowed the Champions League champions only one goal within 10 minutes, while they pulled ahead to lead 9-3. Vardar coach Gonzalez changed his line-up, with Strahinja Milic replacing Sterbik, and his team’s next goal came soon after courtesy of Igor Karacic.
Slowly Vardar reduced the deficit, helped by a two-minute suspension for Barcelona line player Alexis Borges late in the half. When Barcelona returned to full strength the Champions League champions had come within three goals at 11-14, where the score line stayed as the half-time buzzer sounded.
It took just over 10 minutes in the second half for Vardar to close the gap to one, and from there it was a close contest. As the clock passed the 50-minute mark the score stood level at 25-25 – but as the last few minutes of the match began Barcelona regained the upper hand with Mem’s sixth goal, which took them back to a two-goal advantage
Vardar could not recover from that score line so late in the game, and the 2013 and 2014 Super Globe champions were the team to celebrate at the buzzer.