Courtesy: LEN Media
After 19 straight triumphs, this year’s match saw the Champions League winning side falling in the Super Cup final. Holder of Euro Cup, FTC-Telekom Budapest (Ferencvaros) bettered Greece’s Olympiacos Pireaus in a thrilling game ending in a penalty shootout in Budapest, in front of a capacity crowd of 3,000 spectators. This is the Hungarians’ third Super Cup title, after a wait of 38 years.
Last autumn in the same pool, the Bela Komjadi complex – site of numerous legendary European cup contests – saw Ferencvaros pushing Champions League winner Szolnok to a penalty shootout but couldn’t upset the fellow Hungarian side: after 6-6, they lost 2-4. A year gone, Ferencvaros returned to the scene after retaining the Euro Cup and fought another brilliant battle this time with Olympiacos Piraeus. It ended 7-7, but now they were the ones who won 4-2 in the ‘roulette’. This is the first time since 1993 that the European champion club loses the Super Cup.
After a balanced first period which saw one action goal apiece and man-ups wasted, Olympiacos netted two in succession to gain a 3-1 lead which they kept until halftime when they were 4-2 up, mainly thanks to their great Croatian goalie Josip Pavic who delivered a handful of incredible saves.
Things started to turn around in the third, the key moment came with 5:40 to go in this period when Ioannis Fountoulis, hero of the Champions League final in Genoa last May, couldn’t beat Soma Vogel from a penalty. This turned out to be crucial: instead of leading 5-3, soon the Greeks found themselves behind for the first time after the Magyar Magician Denes Varga netted three straight goals, each of them special of its kind. Konstantinos Mourikis pushed one in from a man-up, still, Ferencvaros was in front before the last period (5-6).
Soon they doubled the gap with a smart play, but after getting on fire and making it 5-7 after 4-2, it was a bit surprising that they couldn’t score in the remaining 7:06 minutes. The Greeks battled on, Dimitrios Nikolaidis netted another outstanding backhanded goal from the center for 6-7, and despite two missed 6 on 5s they managed to equalize with another action goal. Konstantinos Genidounias scored from the distance for 7-7, with 1:40 remaining on the clock.
The decision was left to the penalties, Paulo Obradovic hit the bar in the first round, Fountoulis did the same in the fourth while the Ferencvaros players buried each attempt and that secured the club’s third Super Cup triumph after 1978 and 1980.
Interestingly, the women’s final was also decided in the shootout and there also a Hungarian side, LEN Trophy winner Dunaujvaros upended the Euro League title-holder Kinef Kirishi (RUS).
This is the fifth time in history when clubs from the same nation clinched both Super Cups, Italy had this special double in 2007, 2008 and 2012, and Spain in 2014. Though this is the very first time when both the men’s Champions League and women’s Euro League winning sides lost the Super Cup final in the same year.
European Super Cup Final, Budapest
Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) 7-7, penalties: 2-4
Zsolt Varga, head coach, Ferencvaros
“It’s a big win for this club, achieved in a big game, a typical one-match final. The game went according to my expectations, I was happy to see that the gap at halftime wasn’t too big since even if we scored only two goals, I knew that once we geared up and started playing our own game on a high pace that might decide the outcome in our favour. It almost worked out perfectly though we faded a bit in the last minutes, still, I think we deserved this trophy.”
Theodoros Vlachos, head coach, Olympiacos:
“It was a great game in a brilliant atmosphere. We could have won this match, the first half was fine but then came the third which was a disaster. That missed penalty was crucial, it was a turning point but despite of that we came back in the fourth period, had two extramen but missed both – those would have been enough to clinch the cup.”
Denes Varga, captain, Ferencvaros:
“We were able to add the necessary extra gear in the second half. It’s something very important against a Greek team, to be able to speed up your game after a while and we just managed to do that. It’s great to clinch this trophy but the hunting season has just started, there are plenty more to achieve and there is a long way ahead of us.”