The Costa del Sol Malaga team celebrate their Copa de la Reina success. / SUR

Cheers and tears as Costa del Sol Malaga handed their second Copa de la Reina trophy win in just three years

The team achieved the feat by convincingly beating Atletic Guardés 26-33 in northern Spain

MARINA RIVAS

The Costa del Sol Malaga handball team won the Copa de la Reina for the second time in three years after defeating Atlético Guardés 26-33 in the final on Sunday. It wasn't the match-up that many were expecting, as the Andalusian side caused an upset by knocking out tournament favourites Super Amara Bera Bera in the semi-final.

The Panthers themselves couldn't believe their achievement, but they won this trophy for the second time since 2020, a feat that not many in Spain believed possible. It's proof that the club's success has only just begun and that the unprecedented treble they have won was no fluke.

The side managed by Suso Gallardo was by no means the favourites to win the Copa. Rocasa Gran Canaria, who have been CS Malaga's Achilles heel in recent years, were unable to beat them; Elche, the previous winners, didn't show up for their semi-final match; and Atlético Guardés couldn't even tap into the adrenaline of playing in their first-ever cup final.

CS Malaga once again dominated the final, grew into it, felt comfortable with how they were playing and convinced thousands of viewers how good they actually are by lifting their second Copa de la Reina.

Pivotal moment

The Andalusian team's mentality changed completely after beating Rocasa Gran Canaria in the quarter-finals. The fear of being beaten by the Canarians did show in some segments of the game, but their eventual victory gave them a massive confidence boost that carried them to the final.

The energy that Gallardo's side had in Sunday's final was unlike anything they'd ever seen, which had only increased after the tournament favourites were knocked out. CS Malaga captain Sole López was crucial during the final's first-half, as she injected her side with confidence as well as being deadly in front of goal by scoring six times.

The team then believed that a win was possible and they didn't break away from their style of play from previous rounds: a solid defence that pushed high up the pitch was key, as it gave the fastest players the space to exploit the opposition goal.

In the final moments of the game, both teams felt tired of the fatigue they'd accumulated from playing three games in two days, but CS Malaga remained superior. With the score being 26-33 and Atlético Guardés unable to complete a comeback, the Malaga players were smiling and erupted into cheers and tears once the final whistle was blown. Happiness flooded the team, and CS Malaga did the impossible in front of 3,000 people.