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Vipers Kristiansand claim second title in front of record crowd

The EHF FINAL4 Women 2022 set all kinds of records, with 15,400 spectators attending the finals day in the MVM Dome in Budapest to see Vipers Kristiansand clinch back-to-back victories.

It was the first time the EHF FINAL4 had been held at the MVM Dome after moving from its previous home at the Papp László Budapest Sportaréna, and the bigger venue made for a fantastic atmosphere throughout the weekend.

Vipers took the title after dominant performances against Metz Handball in the semi-final and Györi Audi ETO KC in the final. It was only the second loss in the season for the Hungarian record champions, who held an early lead before Vipers piled on the pressure to take the win.

With a final score of 33:31, this was the highest-scoring final in history at the EHF FINAL4. The combined score of 64 goals was two goals more than the old record, 62, set in the previous season by Vipers and Brest Bretagne Handball.

The Norwegian club became only the fifth team in history – after Hypo Niederosterreich, Slagelse FH, Viborg HK and Györ – to retain the title they won in the previous season. Although Györ could not clinch another title, they did make a record ninth final. 

Vipers’ right back Nora Mørk and goalkeeper Katrine Lunde tied with Ausra Fridrikas and Bojana Popovic as record winners of the EHF Champions League, with six titles each. Their teammate Heidi Løke, who had won five Champions League trophies before 2021/22, did not play in the final weekend.

Mørk was also named again in the EHF Champions League All-star Team, which also included four Györ players and coach Ambros Martin. CSM Bucuresti’s Cristina Neagu was the All-star left back and the season’s top scorer, with 110 goals. It was Neagu’s third top-scorer trophy, a record which she now shares with Natalia Morskova and Nataliya Derepasko.

Vipers’ Markéta Jerábková scored 19 goals across the two games of the EHF FINAL4 and became the tournament’s MVP – the first Czech player to hold the title. Jerábková was critical to Vipers’ success, and combined well with compatriot Jana Knedlikova in the final against Györ.

Metz Handball won the 3/4 placement match against Team Esbjerg. It was their first EHF FINAL4 win, and while they came to Budapest with hopes of the title, they went away smiling. 

Esbjerg found Györ’s depth too much in the second half of their semi-final, and lost by six goals to Metz. However, it was still an excellent season for the Danish side, who reached their first EHF FINAL4 after a 13-game unbeaten streak.



Barça make history after penalty shoot-out

Barça began the 2021/22 season as reigning champions, but also with an air of uncertainty after a change in head coach – from Xavi Pascal to Carlos Ortega – and the departure of several key players.

Although it took the Spanish side several group phase games to really find their feet, by the EHF FINAL4 they were again a force to be reckoned with, and they eventually took a record 10th title in a thriller against Lomza Vive Kielce.

The two sides swapped the lead throughout the final and on the final buzzer of regular time tournament MVP Artsem Karalek scored to keep Kielce’s hopes alive, making it 28:28. In extra time, Barça looked to have the win wrapped up before letting Kielce back in with a couple of missed shots – but Alex Dujshebaev missed a potential winner on the buzzer, and the game went into a penalty shoot-out. 

Dujshebaev was also the only player to miss a penalty, with his shot saved by Barça goalkeeper Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas. Ludovic Fabregas made no mistake with the final penalty shot, securing Barça the trophy.

There was also a penalty shoot out in the 3/4 placement match between THW Kiel and Telekom Veszprém. The 2020 champions secured victory thanks to three saves from All-star goalkeeper Niklas Landin, after previously losing the replay of the 2020 final, 30:34 to Barça. 

Veszprém’s fourth place was perhaps a disappointing end to their sixth EHF FINAL4 appearance in eight seasons, but also shows the club’s consistency and potential to – one day – finally lift the trophy. 

The weekend set several records. Three matches at the EHF FINAL4 2022 featured 72 goals each and even the same result, 37:35. The total number of goals scored over the four matches hit 280, a new record for Cologne, with 19,750 fans witnessing the games each day. 

All four finalist teams featured in the EHF Champions League All-star Team. Best defender Hendrik Pekeler joined his teammate Landin; Barça supplied the All-star right back and right wing in the shape of Dika Mem and Aleix Gómez; left back Petar Nenadic and centre back Kentin Mahé featured for Veszprém; and Kielce’s Talant Dujshebaev was named best coach. Nenadic and Pekeler both made their first Champions League All-star Teams.

Gómez was the EHF Champions League top scorer, netting 104 times throughout the season including 22 goals at the EHF FINAL4.

Barça’s victory received extensive media coverage around Europe and broke records when it came to TV and digital coverage.