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Handball: HC Linz HLA champion for the first time in 28 years

Handball: HC Linz HLA champion for the first time in 28 years

The Upper Austrians achieved their eighth coup in a very dramatic final against HC Hard.

HC Linz won the title for the first time since 1996 on Tuesday in the third and decisive final of the Austrian Men's Handball League (HLA). In a very dramatic final, the Upper Austria team achieved its eighth coup in front of more than 2,000 fans with a 31:30 (27:27, 16:13) victory after extra time – away at the HC Hard Stadium. Linz had already reached the final last year.

However, the “Red Devils” from Vorarlberg missed out on their first HLA title since 2021. “As expected, it was a battle of pure euphoria and passion from both sides and worthy of the final,” said Moritz Bachmann of Linz happily. ORF. He also referred to the narrow loss in the final last year: “The club deserves to be champion.” “What has happened to us in the last three or four years has been first class.”

Florian Kuiper: “I was about to lose my nerve”

His teammate Florian Kuiper was “speechless”. “How we fought. It's great that he went to extra work. I'm very happy that we won,” said the goalkeeper, who contributed to the win with several saves. “I was about to lose my nerve,” he admitted.

Nico Schnabel spoke on behalf of Harder: “I'm just blank. I have no idea what to say. It was clear from the beginning that it was going to be a fight. We made another mistake in the end.”

Primary round winner Hard was the favorite as Vorarlbergers had never lost in front of their home crowd this season. The home team initially led, as planned, 5:3. The score then rose to 12:10 in the first half before Linz took a three-goal lead into the break with a strong finish.

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After the break, the visitors maintained their control and advanced by four goals. It wasn't until the score was 17:21 that Harders scored two straight goals to make it 19:21 and hope was restored. The Vorarlbergers had already equalized at 26:26 with 90 seconds left in the game. In a very exciting finale, the home team was 26:27 down, but 30 seconds before the final siren they reached extra time.

In this, Hard took the lead for the first time since 13:12 in the first half, with two goals scored by Dominik Schmid, Hard, who ended his long career on Tuesday. But even after the first five minutes of extra time the score was 29:29. Linzers turned a 27:29 lead into a decisive 31:29, so even the final goal from Vorarlberg was of no use. (Abba)

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