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Titanic effort but no Final Four

FC Barcelona Lassa - THW Kiel 33:30 (13:14)

The handball team battle gallantly but miss out on a trip to Cologne after failing to cancel out the five-goal deficit from the first leg in Germany. Barça Lassa will not be going to the Final Four in Cologne after falling two goals short of a comeback against Kiel on Saturday afternoon. They battled all the way, but some stunning goalkeeping from visiting stopper Landin frustrated their gallant efforts. Barça needed to cancel out a five-goal deficit from the first leg, and the pressure seemed to be telling as they struggled to find their feet early on. Kiel defended well and had taken an early 4-1 lead before Barça's machine finally started to find the right gear.

With the 6,762 voices in the Palau getting behind them as it has done so many times in the past, they had fought back to 6:6 on the quarter hour. Gurbindo and Entrerríos were especially inspired in the first half, with 3 and 4 goals each, and at 11:10 they finally broke ahead, although some fine shooting from Klein and Vujin had switched things back the other way before the interval (13:14).

Hopes dwindled when the German s moved further ahead after the restart (14:17), whereupon coach. Xavi Pascual called timeout and sent on Pérez de Vargas. The home supporters hadn't lost hope yet. And after 40 minutes, with the game back level at 19:19, the chances of a miracle seemed to be in sight. Pérez de Vargas made two inspiring saves, and the belief grew stronger. Victor Tomás took command of the attack and some stunning play from Enterrerios contributed to a 12:6 streak to at last put Barça into a meaningful lead at 27:24. More magic from Pérez de Vargas and the optimism grew stronger. Barça would do this.

With six minutes left, Barça finally made it to the all-important five-goal mark (31:26). One more and they'd be through. But it was precisely then that Landin started producing his best. Three consecutive saves from him proved to be Barça's downfall, and Kiel managed to steal back goals at the other end. It all ended 33:30, and that wasn't enough to seal a ticket for the Final Four.