Vipers secure historic three-peat with dominant win
Winning a title in the EHF Champions League Women is difficult, but securing three trophies in a row is an even tougher proposition. However, Vipers Kristiansand have created a dynasty and took a 28:24 win against FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria in the EHF Champions League Women 2022/23 final in a packed MVM Dome in Budapest.
It was the third trophy in a row for the Norwegian side, who are now the third team in the all-time standings for trophies won in the premium European competition.
- the Norwegian side are only the second team in history to have secured three titles in a row in the premium European competition, after Györ managed the feat in 2017, 2018 and 2019
- Vipers used excellent starts to both halves, with mirroring 4:1 runs, to control the game and exert pressure on FTC, who ultimately failed to produce another comeback as they managed throughout the season
- while Vipers’ attack was the usual juggernaut, converting 68 per cent of their shots, the gap was enhanced by the superb performance from 43-year-old goalkeeper Katrine Lunde, who finished the game with 16 saves and a 47 per cent save rate
- Anna Vyakhireva became the first right back in history to seal the MVP award at the EHF FINAL4, with excellent performances in both games in Budapest. She racked up 11 goals across the two matches played on the final weekend and won her first EHF Champions League Women trophy
- goalkeeper Katrine Lunde, who started the match with a 60 per cent save rate over the first 15 minutes, became the first player in history to clinch the EHF Champions League Women trophy seven times
- only Györi Audi ETO KC – five titles – and Hypo Niederösterreich – four – have won the trophy more times than Vipers, with the Norwegian side having now tied Danish teams Viborg HK and Slagelse DH on the list
- this was the last game for Ole Gustav Gjekstad as Vipers’ coach, with the Norwegian powerhouse making the EHF FINAL4 four times in his tenure and winning the last three trophies
Vipers prevent comeback from comeback queens
FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria were the comeback queens this season, making it through thick and thin to reach the last game of the EHF Champions League Women, especially in the quarter-finals against Metz Handball and in Saturday’s semi-final against Team Esbjerg.
However, they could not produce another one in the last act of the EHF FINAL4, though it was not for the lack of trying. Most of the 20,022 fans in the MVM Dome cheered and hoped for another miracle from the Hungarian side, but Vipers were simply too strong and experienced to hand over the title they had won in the previous two seasons.
FTC came close at the end of the first half, cutting the gap to a single goal, 14:13, but one of the most dynamic back lines the EHF Champions League Women has ever seen, plus the most decorated player in history in Katrine Lunde, secured the win and the title for Vipers in superb fashion.
Anna Vyakhireva, Marketa Jerabkova and Jamina Roberts combined for 15 goals in the game, Lunde saved 16 shots, and FTC could simply not cope with the pressure applied by Vipers in key areas. With 16 wins and two losses in their superb season, the Norwegian side made it a three-peat, entering the history books of the premium European competition.
But changes will happen, with four of the players present at the EHF FINAL4 leaving, as well as Ole Gustav Gjekstad. However, their legacy is set and Vipers have truly become one of the best teams in the history of the competition.
This is a dream come true. I came here to Vipers because of the champion spirit, the team spirit, and to win this trophy. I made a good choice. I am so proud of myself and the team.
They were the best team all season, playing a very fast-paced brand of handball. Congratulations to them, because they deserve it. Now, we are very sad — we lost the final — but in a few days we will celebrate this amazing season, from the record win against Most, to the comeback against Metz and this [EHF] FINAL4. It has been amazing. Now we suffer, but we will celebrate later. Also, bringing so many fans into the arena in Budapest was simply amazing. It is something that needs to be celebrated too.