Telekom Veszprem are the first finalist of the SEHA - Gazprom League Final 4 2020 in Zadar, Croatia. Thanks to a strong performance of goalkeeper Rodrigo Corrales and a clear improvement in the second half, the team of head coach David Davis beat Meshkov Brest 28:24 (12:13) in the first semi-final on Friday night. Veszprem’s opponent will be decided between PPD Zagreb and Vardar 1961 later.
The Hungarian record champions clinched their fourth final berth in their fourth appearance in the SEHA - Gazprom League. In 2015 and 2016, Veszprem won the trophy, in 2017 they were defeated by Vardar.
The 28:24 win on Friday was the third-ever victory for Veszprem in any SEHA - Gazprom League semi-final against Brest after 2016 and 2017 and the third victory against the Belarusian champions in this season after two clear wins in the group phase. In their eighth participation at SEHA - Gazprom League Final 4 tournament, Brest will play for the bronze medal for the seventh time.
But in the first half of the semi-final, the team of Raul Alonso were on eye level with Veszprem. Goalkeeper Ivan Pesic stood strong and Alexander Shkurinskiy scored five of his six goals before the break. On Veszprem side, it was Slovenian wing Gasper Marguc, who fired like a machine, netting in five goals from five attempts before the break - but still it was not enough, as Meshkov were ahead 13:12 after 30 minutes in Zadar.
The turning point of the game was the first 15 minutes of the second half when Veszprem had strengthened their defence, and Meshkov only scored three goals in 15 minutes. Easily, Veszprem turned the 12:13 into a decisive 19:16, the first three-goal advance in this match. Brest tried hard to stop the downswing, but besides outstanding Corrales (15 saves in total), mainly Swedish line player Andreas Nilsson and Serbian back Petar Nenadic were the keys in a match, which was latest decided at the score of 26:20 seven minutes before the end.
In the final minutes, Veszprem even could save some power for the final on Sunday (20:30 CET). The final result prove the enormous fighting spirit of Meshkov until the final whistle, but Veszprem’s victory had not been endangered anymore. SEHA - Gazprom league top scorer Mikita Vailupau only scored twice and is on an overall of 105 goals now.
Photo credit: Kolektiff Images