The Hungarian handball team of Ferencváros (FTC) has reached the last sixteen of the EHF European League, as they played against Flensburg of Germany in a 27-27 draw in the last round of the group stage on Tuesday.
The Hungarian team finished fourth in their group with three wins, three draws, and four defeats. The top four finishers advance to the round of 16, where FTC will face two-time Champions League winners Montpellier HB of France. The first match will be played on March 21, and the return match a week later.
“Let us continue to write history together,” read the banner unfurled by Ferencváros fans before kick-off, suggesting that even a narrow defeat could have given their favorite team a chance of reaching the last sixteen. For the Germans, there was no longer any stakes in the match, as they had qualified from the top of the group regardless of the results of the last round.
FTC led by three goals in the fourth minute, while Flensburg created fewer chances but shot more accurately, finally equalizing in the fourth quarter of the match.
The visiting German team was not deterred by the fact that they were given four send-offs in the first 20 minutes. The Hungarian team continued to fight hard, and although Bence Nagy and Máté Lékai missed penalties, their team was 15-13 ahead at the break and Flensburg did not lead once in the first half.
Ferencváros started the second half with a 4-1 run, and after that they started to make mistakes in attack and defense. Head coach István Pásztor called a timeout only three quarters of the way through the game and they tried to play a superior offensive game, but the opponent scored in the first action and took the lead for the first time in the game. FTC did not score for 11 and a half minutes in the second half, during which Flensburg went on a 6-0 run.
With half a minute to go, the visitors led by two, but after that, something rarely seen took place on the pitch: first Bence Nagy scored, then Alex Bognár scored in the last second after a turnover to set the final score in favor of FTC.
Ferencváros can be proud of their handball team, and not only the handball players, but also the footballers will soon be able to show what they can do on the European stage. The Ferencváros football team is playing in the Europa League and has done extremely well so far, reaching the last sixteen. They will next play Leverkusen with the first match on March 9 in Germany, with the return match taking place on March 16 in Budapest.
Featured photo via MTI/Illyés Tibor