Greek Apollon Smyrnis made history in a double way.
Apollon won the first-ever LEN Challenger Cup and the first trophy in the club’s history.
The Greeks beat Terrassa in the return leg in Spain 18:14 in a game with many twists and turns. Apollon, which had a 1-goal advantage from the first game, earned a crucial advantage in an 11-goal fourth quarter (7:4).
2022/23 LEN Challenger Cup, final, 2nd leg
Terrassa – Apollon 14:18 (3:4, 4:4, 4:7, 3:3) – first leg 11:12
Terrassa: Motos, Wilson, Sanchez Campos, Alarcon 3, Flores 3, Garcia, Delgado 4, Sabadell, Perez, De Lera 2, Rodriguez 1, Chico 1, Sanchez. Head coach: Cobacho.
Apollon Smyrnis: Galanopoulos, Alamanos 2, Bogdanovic 4, Mokkas 2, Gioniotakis Kordreras, Diplaros, Braimis 1, Chodrokoukis 1, Vickovic 5, Gardikas 1, Myrilos, Solanakis 2, Kavousanos. Head coach: Deligiannis.
Apollon stunned Terrassa in the first quarter. The Greeks took an early 2:0 lead. In the 7th minute, three goals separated the rivals. Apollon led 4:1. However, Terrassa was able to come back. The Spaniards produced a 4:0 series. At the finish of the first period, the hosts netted two goals to cut the deficit to one (3:4). They added two quick goals at the beginning of the second (Flores and Delgado) and went to 5:4
But, new turns were yet to come. Apollon responded with three straight goals to earn a 7:5 advantage (15th minute). Terrassa leveled with two quick goals within 35 seconds in the last minute of the first quarter (7:7). The second goal came just three seconds before the middle break. But it wasn’t the end of the action-packed first half. Nikola Bogdanovic beat the buzzer. He found the net from the middle of the field in the very last second to give Apollon an 8:7 advantage before the second half.
Terrassa went in front with two early goals in the third quarter (9:8). Still, by the middle of the quarter, Apollon regained the lead (10:9). Immediately after the visitors’ 10th goal, the Spaniards leveled at 10:10. That was followed by Apollon’s excellent series, which decided the winner. The Greeks scored four unanswered goals within 02:21 minutes and jumped to 14:10, which proved vital for their win. Terrassa couldn’t recover.
The hosts reduced the gap to three a few times, but when Lazar Vickovic, the man of the match, scored his fifth goal in the 29th minute for 17:13, everything was decided.