Rincón Fertilidad have qualified for their first ever continental final and are now one tie away from lifting the EHF European Cup. After defeating Atlético Guardés 44-37 on aggregate in the semi-final, the Malaga-based women's handball side will now face Croatian side Lokomotiv Zagreb in the final of Europe's third-tier competition.
Following a 23-18 win in the first leg away to their Galician opponents, Rincón Fertilidad booked their place in the final with a 21-19 win in Malaga on Saturday evening. It was not all plain sailing for the Costa side, however, as Guardés came out with greater intensity in the hope of clawing back the deficit and raced into a 4-0 lead. Eventually, Rincón Fertilidad found their way into the game and secured the win with a solid performance.
Fourth European finalists from Malaga
The result means that Rincón Fertilidad are the just the fourth Malaga side to reach a European final in any sport and the first women’s team to achieve the feat. In 1979, wheelchair basketball team Ademi won what has come to be known as the European Cup. Meanwhile, basketball side Unicaja are the only Malaga team to have reached two continental showpieces, losing in the 2000 Korac Cup final but winning the 2017 Eurocup. Meanwhile, Malaga CF lifted the Intertoto Cup in 2002.
If victorious, it will be Rincón Fertilidad’s third trophy of the season, having already won the Copa de la Reina and the Spanish Supercup. Standing in their way are Lokomotiv Zagreb, the 2017 champions. The Croatians received a bye in their semi-final against Yalikavaksports after their Turkish opponents were forced to pull out due to a Covid-19 outbreak within their ranks.
Bigger venue possible
On Tuesday, it was announced that the first leg would be held in Malaga, most likely at the Palacio de Deportes, rather than at their usual home in Ciudad Jardín. If the match takes place at this much bigger venue, it will be on Sunday 2 May (as Unicaja are playing there on the Saturday evening) before the return fixture in Croatia the following weekend.