Rocasa Gran Canaria claim third EHF European Cup Women
16 May. 2022
Spanish team Rocasa Gran Canaria became the most decorated side in the history of the EHF European Cup Women, the third-tier European competition, after winning their third trophy in the last six seasons, following a 46:46 aggregate draw, decided on the away-goal rule, against fellow Spanish rivals Costa del Sol Malaga.
The two sides had already met three times this season, with Gran Canaria taking two wins in the domestic league, while Malaga secured a 26:23 win in the quarter-finals of the Spanish Cup.
With a trophy on the line, the two sides exchanged blows in the EHF European Cup Women final, with Gran Canaria securing a four-goal win, 21:17, in an excellent defensive display in the first game, when Croatian right back Katarina Pavlovic was unstoppable, scoring seven goals.
However, in a packed Palacio de Deportes José María Martín Carpena in Malaga, with over 7,000 fans cheering for them, reigning champions Costa del Sol Malaga put up a serious fight in the second leg.
A 5:0 run early in the first half put Malaga 8:3 ahead and by that moment, Gran Canaria were in serious trouble. Leading by as many as six goals at the break, 17:11, the hosts improved their chances to become the first team in history to retain the trophy in the third-tier European competition.
It was a hectic second half, prompted by a superb comeback by Rocasa Gran Canaria, who cut the gap to a single goal, 22:21, with 11 minutes to go, as goalkeeper Silvia Navarro worked wonders between the posts, despite an otherworldly effort from Malaga’s Brazilian left back Isabelle dos Santos Medeiros, who scored 56 goals.
But it was still Malaga who had the upper hand, taking a 29:24 lead into the final minute, with the fans cheering in the stands. Eventually, Gran Canaria bounced back and Spanish line player Alba Chiara Spugnini scored the decisive goal with 11 seconds to go, to help her team seal the trophy.
With a 46:46 aggregate draw, the title was decided by the away-goals rule, as Gran Canaria scored 25 goals on Malaga’s court, while the reigning champions could only muster 17 goals in the first match.
The match also set a new record of attendance for a women’s handball game in Spain, with 7,183 fans being present in the Palacio de Deportes José María Martín Carpena in Malaga.
Winning the third title also helped Rocasa Gran Canaria write history in the EHF European Cup Women, becoming the first team to win three titles – in 2016, 2019 and 2022 – while also being the runners-up in 2018.
The Spanish side leapfrogged German team Buxtehuder SV and French outfits Handball Cercle Nîmes and Mios Biganos in the all-time standings, while Spain are now third in the nation standings with four trophies, as Germany still leads the standings with seven titles and the French sides coming second, with five titles.
The top scorer of the competition was Gran Canaria’s Katarina Pavlovic with 75 goals, followed by two players from Serbian semi-finalists ZRK Bekament Bukovicka Banja, back Sara Garovic and right wing Tamara Kocic,
For more information on the EHF European Cup Women, visit eurohandball.com.
Photo: Costa del Sol Malaga