At the end of a very balanced final which had to be decided on penalties, Barcelona won the Champions League at the end of the suspense against Kielce (32-32 ap, 37-35 ap. tab). It is the first time that a team has retained its title since the establishment of the Final Four in 2010.
After two years of constraints due to the health crisis, the Lanxess Arena was treated to a fantastic final this Sunday. The Cologne public had to wait for extra time, then penalties, to know the winner of the 2022 edition of the Champions League. Barcelona finally took over Kielce at the end of a close, passionate and exciting match, at the end of which we never knew which team would manage to win the Grail.
Kielce come back well in the first half
It was Barcelona who first took the game in hand. The fault of a Kielce team that was a little rough at the start of the game (3 interceptions for Barcelona in the first 8 minutes). From the penalty spot, Aleix Gomez gives Barça the first three-goal advantage early in the game (5-2, 7′). The Poles then correct their game, take advantage of the success of Branko Vujovic (4/4 after 18 minutes of play), and harden their defense. For the first time this weekend, we are entitled to a meeting that closes, with defenses that manage to keep the attacks in check. Barcelona maintained their lead for a long time, but Kielce gradually reduced the gap, before finally equalizing through Artsem Karalek, on the rebound following a stoppage by Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas (12-12, 26′). Barcelona manage to keep the lead at the break thanks to Aleix Gomez’s sixth goal (14-13, 30′), but the match is totally undecided.
The lack of Mem, before Karalek snatch the extension
Shortly after returning from the locker room, Kielce took the lead for the first time since scoring their first goal of the game (16-17, 37′). The two teams go blow for blow: Thimothey N’Guessan restores the advantage to Barça (19-18, 40′), but temporarily because Kielce regains the upper hand. The Yellows and Blues miss the opportunity to take a two-goal lead when Pérez de Vargas pushes back the penalty from Arkadiusz Moryto (20-21, 45′), then two more times. Barcelona, which is deprived of Luka Cindric not in the dice, manages to come back and even go back in front in the money-time. Following a loss of the Polish ball, Dika Mem serves Ali Zein well on the counterattack which restores the advantage to the Catalans (27-26, 56′). In numerical superiority on the last moments of the meeting, Barcelona comes close to killing the match in the last minute but Dika Mem, so precious on the meeting, misses his shot this time. Talant Dujshebaev put his time-out 28 seconds from the end and Kielce, taking advantage of Barcelona’s defensive omission on Artsem Karalek, hit extra time two seconds from the end (28-28, 60′). The Lanxess Arena public is entitled to an extension to continue to savor the match.
Ludovic Fabregas delivers Barça
The tension is at its peak at the start of extra time, and it takes two minutes to see goals. Dylan Nahi responds to the goal of Thimothey N’Guessan (29-29, 63′). Andreas Wolff pulls off a huge save against Ludovic Fabregas, his 13th of the game, but can’t do anything about Aleix Gomez’s counter shot before the extra time break (30-29, 65′). But Kielce is in on it. It is in particular thanks to two successful 7 meters from Moryto that the Poles are in front, still at 1’30” (31-32, 69′). Dika Mem scores the equalizer in the last minute, and Kielce fails to convert its last chance into a shot… The two teams definitely do not manage to share in the game, and it will take the penalty shootout to decide between them .
And in this game, Andreas Wolff plays bad luck: he touches the first two attempts of Aleix Gomez and Dika Mem, but the balloons find the nets. Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas is decisive with a foot save on Alex Dujshebaev’s shot before Ludovic Fabregas takes charge, successfully, of converting the last shot on goal which offers the trophy to the Barcelonians (37-35 SF). Unlike in 2016, Kielce lost on penalties in the Champions League final. FC Barcelona won its eleventh European crown, and retained its title after having already won last year. A feat that no winner of the Final Four had managed to accomplish since the establishment of the formula in 2010.
Mickael Georgeault, in Cologne
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