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13.12.2011, 14:30
Six European teams in quarter-finals of World Championship
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Russia, France, Denmark, Norway, Croatia and Spain all through.
 

Six European teams in the quarter-finals of the 2011 World Championship

The Women’s World Championship in Brazil is reaching its crucial stage – the quarter-finals. On Monday 12 December the ‘Eight Final’ round came to an end – and six of the eight teams qualified through to the quarter-finals come from Europe.

Defending champions Russia and EHF EURO champions Norway reinforced their favourites tag with emphatic victories, whilst France (against Sweden), Croatia (against Romania) and especially Denmark with an extra time win over Japan won through.

The draw of the quarter-finals ensures there will be a minimum of two European nations in the semi-finals as Russia face France and Norway compete with Croatia.

Making up the draw, Spain face hosts Brazil whilst Denmark, who beat Japan in dramatic fashion will line-up against African champions Angola.

Eight Final round - Review

Russia – Iceland 30:19 (15:12)

Thanks to a 100% improvement after the break Russia was the first team to reach the quarter-finals. The favourites distanced themselves finally from the brave fighting “Geyser Girls” in the final stages after the Icelanders made the world champions work hard for 45 minutes.

Iceland was the first team at the World Championships to keep pace with Russia for nearly the whole first half, but after the scores were at 10:10 Russia improved and secured a three-goal margin at the break.

Again, the Russian back-court scorers like Liudmila Postnova, Anna Levina and Elena Davydenko were unstoppable and when the current world champions changed their defensive tactics to become more offensive, Iceland lacked ideas to come close to the goal.

Thanks to the Russian team captain Liudmila Postnova the defending champions were on their way to victory at 21:16 and when Olga Chernoivanenko hit the back of the net to make it 23:16 in the 49th minute, the resistance from Iceland was broken at last. Thanks to a double strike from Turei, Russia increased their lead to 10 goals in the 56th minute (28:18) and then finished off the game 30:19.

2011WchBrazilDENvsJPN560

Denmark – Japan 23:22 (19:19, 9:11) after extra time

One of the favourites to win the title had to struggle for 70 minutes to reach the quarter-final of the World Championship but Denmark was the lucky winner of the most tense match of the whole tournament in Brazil so far.

The Europeans needed a penalty goal after the final whistle to reach the extra time against Japan – and after 70 minutes they won the game by a one goal margin, but the whole match itself was a big surprise and a negative one for the favoured Danish team and their coach Jan Pytlick.

Denmark had enormous problems with the fast and agile Japanese defence and with the scores at 6:6 Japan took control, leading for the first time at 8:7 and increasing the margin by two goals at the break. Regular handball observers would have thought that the Asians would lack the power in the second half or that Denmark would restart their engines, but they were completely wrong.

Six minutes before the end of normal time Japan scored twice to make it 18:15 and later and then stretch their lead to three at 19:16. But when it came to the crunch, Japan became nervous and was too hectic in attack.

In the final minute of normal time, with the score at 19:18 Japan missed their shot and Denmark with their last attack was fouled and a penalty shot awarded to be taken after the final buzzer. Trine Troelsen kept her calm though and hit the net to make it 19:19 and take the match into extra time as Denmark came back from the death for the first time. Troelsen then stamped her authority on the game again in extra time, scoring three of the four Danish goals, including the decisive last one.

Norway – Netherlands 34:22 (15:11)

Even though the final result was never really in doubt, the match started surprisingly, with the Dutch ladies leading 7:5 after 15 minutes. EHF EURO 2010 champions Norway started the game with a lot of mistakes, not working well in defence, but a series of five goals in a row made the half-time score attractive for Norway at 15:11 in their favour.

In the second half the Netherlands kept the game open for another eight minutes (15:18), but then the Norwegians started to dominate the game. It was 20:15 after 40 minutes and 24:17 after 45 minutes. Even though the match was almost decided, the Norwegian girls were still scoring and, again, they scored five goals in a row between the 49th and 54th minute increasing their lead from 25:19 to 30:19.

2011WchBrazilESPvMNE560.jpg

Montenegro – Spain 19:23 (9:11)

A sensational figure of 29 saves from the brilliant Spanish goalkeeper Silvia Navarro and six goals from the outstanding Marta Mangue paved the way for Spain to make the quarter-finals.

In this encounter full of fight, Montenegro was too inefficient in attack to proceed to the next stage of the World Championships with the first half a complete roller coaster.

As Montenegro showed nearly no efficiency in attack, the Iberians extended the gap to 10:4, but Montenegro rose like a Phoenix from the flames, led by youngster Marina Knezevic, but the Balkan team gradually started to improve as Spain lost their rhythm, especially in attack.

It took only eight minutes (29th minute), until Montenegro came close to their opponents at 9:10 in this real rough-and-tough battle. At the start of the second half, Navarro was in the thick of the action again, saving five straight shots, which gave her team confidence as they extended their margin to five goals at 14:9 in the 35th minute.

Montenegro – including top star Bojana Popovic, who had a quiet day by her standards – started on the same weak level as in the first half and it took them six minutes to score their first goal, which was a penalty-shot and with the Spanish defence standing stood like a wall they could not force the issue as thanks to their aggressive defence the Balkan team were lucky to still be in the race.

This race turned in to the same rollercoaster as the first half with Montenegro having enough chances to reduce the gap but either they committed technical mistakes or failed against the world-class Navarro, so the distance between the two teams remained at mostly four goals, reaching the final stages as Spain took their 23:19 victory.

Sweden – France 23:26 (15:12)

For nearly 50 minutes Sweden was in lead, but then France decided the game thanks to their improved defence and the fact that the northern Europeans lost their pace completely. France had to replace their tall shooter Mariama Signate after an eye injury in the last training session before the match and she could be out for up to eight or nine weeks.

Thanks to their wing players and their fast break the Swedes were in lead throughout the first half and even extended the gap to three goals at 10:7 for the first time. But from the 43rd minute on the match became a real battle. France reduced their deficit from four, to one goal at 20:21 in the 47th minute and levelled the match at 21:21 thanks to a goal from Alison Pineau.

When Kamto and Baudoin scored for France to make it 23:21, Swedish coach Per Johansson had to take his second time-out within 10 minutes - the crunch-time had begun. Kamto hit the net – 25:23 for France, Darleux saved a Torstensson shot, Camille Ayglon scored to make it 26:23 25 seconds before the end and with it, the French victory was decided.

Romania – Croatia 27:28 (18:15)

A brilliant final catch-up chase with three straight goals made Croatia jump for joy as Kristina Franic decided the game for Croatia with a strike to make it 28:27 in the last minute.

Now the Croatians are going for their best World Championship result since 1997, when they finished sixth. After a weak start Romania improved, leading by three goals at the break - but with the start of the second half everything changed.

Leading 19:15 Romania stopped scoring as Croatia started a catch-up chase with five straight goals, taking back the lead at 20:19.  With the score of 21:20 for the Croatians in the 42nd minute the lights went out in the arena, and the match was interrupted for nearly 15 minutes, providing an ideal warm-up for a real thrilling end.

First Romania was ahead, then Croatia stroke back. Five minutes before the end, the Romanians were in the better position after three straight goals and the 27:25 lead, but then Kristina Franic made the Croatians jump for joy with the two decisive goals for the 28:27 victory.

South Korea – Angola 29:30 (13:13)

The intercontinental encounter was a really thrilling one. Angola had the better start and were in the lead by 3:0 after just three minutes, but South Korea quickly restored the balance and the encounter was a draw going into half-time (13:13).

Over the next 21 minutes neither of the teams was able to build up a lead of more than a one-goal difference, but the match entered into a thrilling final phase. Four minutes before the end Daniela Azenaide Carlos scored to make it 29:27 to Angola.

South Korea was down for the count when Angola's goalkeeper Maria Odeth Tavares saved a penalty shot with 57:11 on the clock. Angola seemed to have sealed the victory but South Korea again struck back, but Luisa Kiala scored for Angola to make it 30:28 just 14 seconds before the end to ensure the victory for the Africans.

Brazil – Ivory Coast 35:22 (15:8)

For the second time since 2005, when they ranked seventh in the end, Brazil is among the best eight nations at a Women’s World Championship.

More than 4,000 spectators celebrated the hosts’ victory against the underdogs from the Ivory Coast, but in the first half the hosts were far away from performing at the high levels they had shown in the Preliminary Round.

Only goalkeeper Chana Masson was on her usual level and thanks to her saves and the resultant counter attacks the hosts extended their lead from 11:8 to 15:8 at the break.

The Ivorian resistance was broken after 30 minutes, as it took only seven minutes into the second half for the South Americans to extend their lead to 10 goals with a score of 20:10. The rest of the match was a party on the fields and in the stands, as the hosts showed some real handball skills, scoring spectacular goals and showing a real joy of playing, as Coach Morten Soubak rotated all of his squad.

Playing schedule for the 2011 World Championships Quarter-Finals

Wednesday 14 December

Russia – France (11:45 hrs. local time)
Angola – Denmark (14:30)
Norway – Croatia (17.15)
Spain – Brazil (20:00)

Ranking of places 9 – 24

9. Sweden
10. Montenegro
11. Korea
12. Iceland
13. Romania
14. Japan
15. Netherlands
16. Ivory Coast
17. Germany
18. Tunisia
19. Kazakhstan
20. Uruguay
21. China
22. Cuba
23. Argentina
24. Australia

Text: Björn Pazen


TEXT: Andrew McSteen
 
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