EHF Finals Men
Energi Viborg EHF Finals
Bietigheim take first European trophy with win over Viborg
SG BBM Bietigheim were imperious throughout the EHF European League Women 2021/22. They started their winning streak in the last qualification round before the group phase against Norwegian side Tertnes Bergen, and ended with the Energi Viborg EHF Finals and an outstanding final win against hosts Viborg HK, 31:20.
The win in the final was not just their first-ever European trophy; it was also Bietigheim’s 50th consecutive win across all competitions, in a streak dating back to March 2021 when they lost a Bundesliga game against BV Borussia 09 Dortmund.
They were also the first German women’s side to clinch the trophy in the second-tier European competition in 30 years, after Leipzig did it in the 1991/92 season (organised by the IHF), and the first side in the last 30 years to clinch the trophy without dropping a single game.
Bietigheim left back Xenia Smits was awarded with the MVP title at the Energi Viborg EHF Finals, after scoring five goals in the game against Viborg and playing a pivotal role in defence.
Viborg HK were playing their first European final in eight years, after winning the Women’s Cup Winners’ Cup in the 2013/14 season. They hosted a celebratory weekend of finals and although they lost the crunch match, that was their only defeat of the season. They won seven games and drew two, setting themselves up well for the future.
Viborg’s Kristina Jörgensen became the top scorer of the competition with 72 goals, in her last season in Denmark before joining EHF Champions League Women side Metz Handball for the 2022/23 season.
Herning-Ikast Håndbold and CS Minaur Baia Mare were the other two teams to make the finals. Bietigheim beat Herning-Ikast 34:33 in the last second to seal their place in the final, and the Danish side went on to beat Baia Mare 29:28 in a penalty shoot-out.
Both teams had reached the EHF Finals 2021 too, and had played the 3/4 placement match against each other in the previous year. Herning-Ikast ended the tournament as the most aggressive attacking side, and backed up Viborg’s success to make the EHF European League and the EHF Finals a solid tournament for Danish club women’s handball.
Borges fulfills Benfica’s title dream in thriller
There was a fairytale end to the EHF Finals Men 2022 as hosts SL Benfica lifted their first European trophy, a win which was covered extensively in the Portuguese and international media.
Benfica’s journey to the title began in qualification round 1, when they beat Swiss side Kriens Luzern 60:42 on aggregate. They went on to sweep past 2021 bronze medallists Rhein-Neckar Löwen in qualification round 2 to reach the group phase, where seven wins, a draw and two losses saw them finish second to GOG.
Strong home legs against Fenix Toulouse and RK Gorenje Velenje in the Last 16 and quarter-finals saw Benfica through to the EHF Finals, where they disposed of Orlen Wisla Plock 26:19 in the semi-finals.
The final against 2021 champions SC Magdeburg proved a real nail-biter in front of thousands of Portuguese fans. The two sides exchanged the lead throughout the match and Magdeburg forced extra time when Philipp Weber scored in the last second.
Benfica ended the first period of extra time down by a goal, but rallied and a missed pass by Magdeburg, followed by a successful goal from Alexis Borges, gave Benfica a two-goal lead. Though Ómar Ingi Magnusson netted a final penalty for the German club on the buzzer, Benfica had done enough.
Benfica’s goalkeeper Sergey Hernandez was named the MVP of the tournament and Petar Djordjic was the top scorer of both the EHF Finals and the European League. Benfica were only the second non-German winners of the second-tier European competition since 2004 – the others being Pick Szeged from Hungary in 2014.
The final brought to an end a 26-match long winning streak by Magdeburg in the competition.
After their loss to Benfica in the semi-finals, Plock went on to improve from fourth place in 2021 to beat RK Nexe 27:22 in the 2022 3/4 placement match. This was their best result in a European competition.
Nexe also had their best-ever European result by making the finals; they became the first-ever Croatian team to qualify for any final tournament in any EHF European cup competition. Like Benfica, they made it all the way to Lisbon from qualification round 1.