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Víctor Tomàs captains the team to victory. / GERMÁN PARGA-FCB

The weekend could not have finished any better. FC Barcelona's handball team won the European championship in Cologne over MBK Veszprem, 28-23. Barça's ninth European Cup came thanks to a huge defensive effort for all 60 minutes.

Defensive wall

The beginning of the final resembled the semi-final, as Barça fell behind on the scoreboard only to quickly move ahead. Based on an impenetrable defense and a huge Saric, the team took the lead thanks to Karabatic, goals from Sigurdsson and he appearance of Entrerríos, Gurbindo, Noddesbo and company. A total effort have Barça a good start in the most iomportant game of the year.

Veszprem stayed alive thanks to the former blaugrana player Laszlo Nagy. His four goals led a group that suffered a lot to stop Saric. The Hungarians's best run in the entire first half was a two-goal clip that took the score 9-6 to 9-8. Barca's response was to go on a 5-2 run of their own to make it 14-10. Having conceded only ten goals was a big key.

Fighting to win

With the first half behind them, now was the time to preserve the lead. Veszprem kept pushing but the Barça defence was huge. On the other end, Karabatic led the attack and a Gurbindo goal gave the Catalans their biggest lead at 18-13.

But it wouldn't be a Champions League Final without a late scare. Veszprem's best run brought them to within 19-17. The game then broke wide open, with both teams committing a series of mistakes on attack. A goal from Sigurdsson restored a sense of calm and, incidentally, broke a five-minute stretch that featured no scoring.

That goal was major psychological blow to Veszprem, which had missed an opportunity to score and were again down three. Barça went back up by six to slam the door shut and take the title.

MATCH STATISTICS

FC Barcelona, 28
MBK Veszprem, 23

FC Barcelona: Saric, Sigurdsson (6), Tomàs (5), Sorhaindo, Entrerríos (4), Karabatic (6), Viran (starting seven), Lazarov, Gurbindo (3), Noddesbo (3), Sarmiento (1)

MBK Veszprem: Alilovic, Ivancsik (1), Ilic (5), Chema, Nagy (8), Sulic (2), Marguc (2) (starting seven), Schuch, Terzic, Zeitz, Gulyas (2), Lekai (1), Nilsson (2)

Scoring by 5-minute intervals: 1-2, 5-4, 7-5, 8-6, 10-9, 14-10 (HALF), 16-12, 19-16, 19-17, 22-18, 25-20, 28-23 (FINAL)


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