Since 2014, no other teams than Telekom Veszprem and Vardar 1961 had won the prestigious trophy of the SEHA - Gazprom League - and since both qualified for 2020 final at Zadar, Croatia, it was obvious that this series would continue. On Sunday night, Vezsprem confirmed their favourite role by an impressive 35:27 (15:12) victory and took the title for the third time after 2015 and 2016. They dethroned five-times champions Vardar and were the first side to defeat the Macedonians at SEHA Final 4 tournaments since the 2016 final and after seven straight victories.
Team captain Mate Lekai rose the trophy after a very dominant performance in a one-sided final, in which Vardar were too weak in the beginning and then lacked the means to get hold of the match again. Two days after their lucky and exhausting semi-final win against Zagreb after penalty shoot-out (30:29), the team of Stevche Alushovski did not have the power to stand the Veszprem style of play. And like in the semi-final against Brest (28:24), goalkeeper Rodrigo Corrales was a key for success, but Veszprem could also count on a wider squad and a better rotation.
The Hungarian record champions took revenge for the SEHA - Gazprom Final defeat against Vardar in 2017 (21:26) and the defeat in the 2019 EHF Champions League final. The 35:27 on Sunday night was the second biggest goal difference ever in SEHA - Gazprom League finals below Veszprem’s 32:21 in 2015 on home ground.
Top scorers were Petar Nenadic with five goals for Veszprem and Gleb Kalarash with five goals for Vardar.
The Veszprem train was under full steam in the first 20 minutes, Vardar were chanceless against an impressive defence and attacking performance of the Hungarian side. The Macedonians scored only one goal in the first seven minutes, but already had failed four times against Veszprem’s goalkeeper Rodrigo Corrales (14 saves), who stood like a wall in combination with the defenders.
On the other end of the court, it was former Vardar player Vuko Borozan, who extended the gap goal by goal, in cooperation with strong line player Andreas Nilsson. Vardar coach Stevche Alushovski took his first time-out at the score of 1:5 and his second one already in minute 21, when his team was down by six goals already at 7:13.
But the defending champions intermediately managed to reduce the distance, mainly thanks to three counter-attack goals of Ivan Cupic - and the Croatian wing netted in for the halftime score of 12:15 to finish ten strong Vardar minutes with a 5:2 run.
For six more minutes and until the 16:19, Vardar could hope for their sixth SEHA - Gazprom League title, but then Veszprem took full control and easily cruised past their opponents. Latest at the 25:18 in minute 45, the deal was sealed, Veszprem cleverly played down the clock and finally celebrated their third title in the SEHA - Gazprom League.
photo credit: Kolektiff Images