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Date: 5/14/2018

Hungarian team Györi Audi ETO KC became the first club to defend a title won at the EHF FINAL4, in either the men’s or women’s competitions, after winning the Women’s EHF Champions League 2017/18 Final against HC Vardar on Sunday in Budapest. It was a fitting birthday present for 2005 IHF World Handball Player of the Year Anita Görbicz, who celebrated her 35th birthday in the 12,500-capacity Papp Laszlo Budapest Sportarena by winning her fourth Champions League title with the club she has played for her entire career.


 The thrilling FINAL4 weekend saw the semi-finals and finals played over two days, along with several fringe events such as the Junior FINAL4 contested between Under 20 teams from Hungary, Russia, Slovenia and Montenegro.


Just as they did in 2017, Györ defeated five-time FINAL4 participants HC Vardar by one goal, 27:26, in a thrilling trophy match decided in extra time. The Hungarian team started the weekend with a dominant performance in their semi-final, beating CSM Bucuresti 26:20. HC Vardar made their way to the final by defeating Russian side Rostov-Don 25:19.


Though they left the FINAL4 empty-handed, Vardar could celebrate the fact that their goalkeeper Amandine Leynaud – who was a crucial part of France’s gold medal at the 2017 IHF Women’s World Championship in December as well as their silver at the 2016 Olympic Games – was named MVP of the event.


Three-time World Handball Player of the Year Cristina Neagu won the top scorer title, with a tally of 110 goals in the season. It is her second top scorer title after she shared the award with Vardar’s Andrea Penezic in 2014/15, when both scored 102 goals.


“It is always nice to win such trophies. It means I am doing something good. There is a lot of sweat and a lot of work put in to have these kind of results,” said Neagu. “Unfortunately, we could not win the trophy, therefore I am a little bit disappointed.”


On Friday, before the matches began, the All-star Team of the 2017/18 Champions League season was announced:


Goalkeeper: Kari Aalvik Grimsbø (Györi Audi ETO KC)
Left wing: Siraba Dembele (Rostov-Don)
Left back: Cristina Neagu (CSM Bucuresti)
Centre back: Veronica Kristiansen (FC Midtjylland)
Line player: Dragana Cvijic (HC Vardar)
Right back: Ana Gros (Metz Handball)
Right wing: Iuliia Managarova (Rostov-Don)
Best defender: Zsuzsanna Tomori (Györi Audi ETO KC)
Best young player: Tjasa Stanko (RK Krim Mercator)
Best coach: Ambros Martin (Györi Audi ETO KC)

More information on the EHF Champions League can be found on the official website ehfcl.com. All FINAL4 matches are available free and on demand on ehfTV.com.

Photos: Aniko Kovacs