Terrassa could hold on till the middle of the third period, then a 0-4 run from Apollon proved to be decisive in this epic game which produced 32 goals. The hosts could never recover from the shock, so the Greeks could lift the trophy at the end of the first edition of the LEN Challenger Cup – also a historical first big win for their club.
Challenger Cup Final, 2nd leg
CN Terrassa (ESP) v GS Apollon Smyrnis (GRE) 14-18 – aggregate: 25-30
Apollon arrived at Spain with a single-goal lead, but they staged a stunning start and jumped to a 1-4 lead. The host reacted well, pulled two back still in the first period and kicked off the second with a quick double to take the lead for the first time in the match.
That also kicked off a series of twists and turns as Apollon then managed to score three goals in a row to go 5-7 up, while Spaniards were unable to find the net for long minutes. Then, in a sudden, they hit twice in 35 seconds, so with 0:03 to go it was 7-7. Still, the Greeks led at halftime as Nikola Bogdanovic’s distant shot ended up in the net, just beating the buzzer.
The home side returned to the field as determined as ever and in 41 seconds they went ahead again for 9-8 with two action goals. Apollon responded with a double too, but Ricard Alarcon netted an extra to make it 10-10. Since 4-4, the lead was changing constantly – so what came in the following couple of minutes, a 0-4 rush by the Greeks, had devastating consequences on the outcome, at least from a Spanish angle.
Two goals in 38 seconds gave a two-goal lead for the visitors, while Terrassa were unable to handle the mounting pressure in front of their capacity crowd. 44 seconds later Emmanouil Solanakis put away another extra, soon the Greeks killed a man-down and Lazar Vickovic’s action goal completed the big run for 10-14. In 2:32 minutes, the game was virtually over – the hosts could never recover from this shock.
Terrassa could pull one back twice early in the fourth, then had two man-ups at 13-16 to come closer, missed both and when Vickovic netted his 5th of the game from a 6 on 5 for 13-17, he sealed the Greeks’ victory. The Spaniards even wasted a 6 on 4, before an exchange of goals closed down this epic, 32-goal final, to give way to the Greeks’ wild celebrations.