Henny Reistad and Nora Mørk lead Norway's Vipers to first ever handball Champions League title

Vipers defeated French side Brest Bretagne in the final to claim a maiden Final4 title, in another big moment for Norwegian handball just weeks from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

By Ken Browne
Picture by BILDBYRÅN

Vipers Kristiansand are champions of Europe after they beat Brest Bretagne 34-28 in the women's handball Champions League final on Sunday 30 May.

Vipers went into the lead towards the end of the first half and never looked back, winning by a commanding six goals, inspired by the brilliance of 2020/2021 All-Stars Henny Reistad and Nora Mørk.

The MVP deservedly went to Reistad who scored 22 goals over two games at the Final4, the 22-year-old proving what a talent she is on the biggest European club stage.

There was some consolation for Brest's outstanding Ana Gros who was awarded the Champions League top scorer trophy with 135 goals, and they blasted 'This Girl Is On Fire' over the stadium speakers when she received it - a fitting tribute.

Brest start bright but Vipers ease into pole position

This was a battle between two clubs that had never made it to a Champions League final before, guaranteeing us a brand new winner.

And it opened with a close, tense first half, Brest staying with the Norwegians in the early stages.

It was 10-10 at one point, but toward the end of the first period Vipers found another gear, going in to the break with an 18-14 lead.

Brest had emptied the tank in their semi final after that unforgettable win over defending champions Gyor, going all the way through extra time to penalties.

The halftime stats told the story with Vipers shooting 69% to Brest's 54%, their goalkeepers faring much better too, Vipers stopping 36%, Brest only 10%.

A superb showing from 41-year-old stopper Katrine Lunde frustrated Brest shooters like this spectacular penalty save against Isabelle Gulldén.

Henny heroics, Mørk miracles

The halftime lead never looked really looked in trouble as the second half progressed, and the Vipers saw it home in style thanks a big team performance on a night where their stars delivered.

People have stopped calling Henny Reistad a 'rising star' because she's already here, leading this Norwegian team to a historic title.

She was relentless throughout and her energy and accuracy carried the Vipers to a different level.

Norwegian left back Emilie Arntzen also played an important role, popping up in important moments to keep Vipers in the driving seat.

And anyone tuning in for some Nora Mørk magic won't have been disappointed, this goal of the season contender an example of the type of sorcery she produced throughout:

Norwegian momentum ahead of Tokyo Olympics

First the European Championships victory in January, now this. Norway have the momentum heading into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games that start in July 2021.

Vipers has a squad packed with Norwegian national team talent and have laid down another marker here ahead of the Games.

"Rio still haunts me." - Nora Mørk to Handball Hour

Recently Mørk told The Handball Hour Podcast before the Final Four weekend that 2021 is all about the Olympics for her:

"Yes, I'm not going to lie, it's perfect that we qualified for the FINAL4 then we get a weekend where there's top handball, top quality and pressure and everything, we get to experience that and then for the Olympics of course this is what's been on my mind for the last five years."

Norway lost by a single goal to eventual Olympic champions Russia in the semi-final in Rio, and while Mørk scored seven goals to help the Norwegians to bronze, she has that gold medal on her mind now before Tokyo.

"I have to say, Rio still haunts me so be able to get back in the Olympics and give another try and really challenge the other teams that's been in my mind for the last five years so I'm very excited and I think everyone who knows me knows that this is going to be a very important summer for sure."

Watch out Tokyo.