Vasas, close to perfection, roar to European triumph after 21 years

Twenty-one years after the last big victory of Vasas, in the Cupwinners’ Cup, the Hungarian club claimed another European trophy. They came up with an almost flawless performance, netting 12 out of 15 man-ups tore their rival Savona apart so they earned an eight-goal win after the tied first leg.

Euro Cup Final, 2nd leg

A Hid-VasasPlaket (HUN) v RN Savona (ITA) 15-7 – aggregate: 23-15

To heat up the capacity crowd in Budapest, some archive footage was played on the giant screen before the teams’ intro, featuring Vasas’ last European triumph in the Cupwinners’ Cup in 2002. An hour later, another trophy was added to the Hungarian club’s rich treasury.

The hosts stormed to a 5-1 lead right away with an astonishing performance: they were 5/5 in man-ups, four of those goals were scored from the 2m line, which is a real booster for the scoring side and can have devastating effect on the defenders. This is something barely seen even at league matches, so not surprisingly, Savona – sometimes playing way too aggressively – struggled in front and missed three 6 on 5s, made only one.

The following period was a bit more balanced, though at one stage the visitors seemed to be in deep trouble as Vasas kept on scoring from extras and led 8-2. Then the Magyars ran a bit out of steam in the last three minutes and Savona could climb back to 8-4, thanks to their star centre-forward Lorenzo Bruni who netted two, one from the centre, as the lonely action goal in the first half.

It was a short-living recovery from the Italians, though, as Vasas returned to its rumbling mood. They scored twice – again, from man-ups – and reset the six-goal lead in 80 seconds. Then Drasko Brugljan scored the hosts’ first action goal in the final series while Branislav Mitrovic denied the Italians in back-to-back man-downs. Towards the end Vasas had only seven seconds left to finish a man-up, but they used only three to make it 12-4 – this 4-0 thrashing closed down the contest, even though there were eight more minutes to play. (Indeed, Vasas just did what they had done in their home matches in the Euro Cup: in the previous three, they bested their respective rivals by 5-6 goals, now they did even better.)

The fourth was devoted to permanent celebrations – for official note: Vasas closed the game with an incredible 12 for 15 in extra –, and the eight-goal difference remained amidst funny circumstances. The Vasas bench jumped to the pool in joy when it turned out that the buzzer signed the end of a possession time and 0.9sec remained on the clock. Because of that, Savona was awarded a penalty, it was buried for 15-7 – so a bit historically the coach of the Hungarians Slobodan Nikic was tossed into the water twice. Kind of highlighting how badly this famous club wanted to lift a European trophy after 21 long years.

This was the first Euro Cup victory for them, to be added to the two Champions League (Champions Cup) and three Cupwinners’ Cup victories from the past. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the competition (once named LEN Trophy), the Hungarians got one closer to the Italian clubs – this was the 8th triumph for the Magyars in these series while Italy still top the ranks with 10.


Slobodan Nikic, coach, Vasas

“We played our best in the season in the most important match of the season. We were aware how important this match is for our club and for our fans, we prepared really well and we managed to execute our game-plan almost perfectly. We learned a lot form the first leg where we played mediocre and still came away with a draw. We though we were the better side and we wanted to prove that. I’m so happy that we could deliver a performance like this today.”

Angelo Angelini, coach, Savona

“Vasas were stronger and played a lot better, right from the beginning. They made their man-ups while we couldn’t use the spaces in offence, and we were not able to defend well in man-downs either. Still, for our club it was a fantastic journey, we are really happy that we reached the final and could play in such a great atmosphere, in front of full stands. We have seven players who played a European final for the first time, for them it’s a great experience, they can learn a lot from these matches.”