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09.03.2016, 21:39
Romania defeat the world champions
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ROUND REVIEW: Romania move to the top of Group 1 with a win against Norway, the Netherlands settle into first in Group 3, and France defeat Germany after a close contest
 

Romania defeat the world champions

The Women’s EHF EURO 2016 Qualification Phase 2 heated up with decisive wins for Romania and the Netherlands against difficult opponents, and a significant but much closer victory for France.

Romania avenged their semi-final loss at the world championship 2015 with a five-goal win against Norway at home, while the Netherlands defeated Spain by an even bigger margin to move to the top of the Group 3 table.

France waited until the final minutes of their away game against Germany to claim the win, but also walk away from Round 3 with two valuable points.

GROUP 1

Romania vs Norway 25:20 (16:9)

The highly-anticipated rematch between two teams who faced each other only a few months ago, in the semi-final of the World Championship 2015 where Romania were eliminated after Norway won the match in extra time.

This time the tie ended with the home team making amends for their devastating loss in December.

Romania made it clear with their emphatic win that coach Tomas Ryde, who is just nearing the one-year mark as head coach, is the right person to bring out the best in the team.

The visitors focused on containing Norway’s traditional counter attacks and fast breaks, while their trademark 6-0 backed by Paula Ungureanu was efficient in minimising the threat of back court players like Nora Mork.

At the other end of the court, Cristina Neagu led Romania to an early lead that saw them in front 10:4 midway through the first half.

Norway coach Thorir Hergeirsson looked to his deep roster with most of his players taking to the court in an effort to get Romania under control, but the home side created a quite astounding seven-goal advantage against the current Olympic and European champions by the break.

As ordinarily prolific scorers such as Camilla Herrem and Amanda Kurtovic were kept quiet by Romania’s tactics, the hosts were free to play a comfortable second half and maintain their lead against an answerless Norway.

When the score stayed in favour of Romania at 22:18 with five minutes remaining, the vocal home crowd began to celebrate.

Romania now move to the top of Group 1 with six points while Norway stay second ahead of Belarus.

GROUP 3

Netherlands vs Spain 31:21 (13:10)

In a match that belonged completely to the Netherlands, Nerea Pena was the one bright spot in an otherwise underwhelming performance from Spain.

Fresh from their unexpectedly early exit at Denmark 2015, Spain began the match with something to prove, but it was Pena alone who kept them from an even more devastating loss than the score board showed at the final whistle.

The FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria centre back scored six of Spain’s ten goals in the first half, while the Netherlands sent the ball raining into the goal from all over the court and comfortably kept control from the first whistle to the last.

When the Netherlands were already in front 9:4 after 15 minutes, it was an ominous sign for Spain.

While Pena played at her best shooting at 100 per cent through right up until the 50th minute with a tally of nine goals in total, the rest of her team were rarely able to find the goal during the first 30 minutes.

The Netherlands earned a comfortable three-goal advantage by half-time, and returned to the court with even more force after the break.

It became the Cornelia Nycke Groot and Danick Snelder versus Pena show as the clock ticked on, with the Dutch twosome giving the middle of the Spanish defence a serious headache and contributing 13 goals between them.

With 10 minutes left on the clock the Netherlands held a substantial 24:17 lead that would prove impossible for Spain to come back from.

When the final goal of the match came from Netherlands keeper Tess Wester, who put the Dutch 10 goals in front with the buzzer fast approaching, it was a fitting end to an impressive match for the home side – and one Spain will long to forget.

GROUP 7

Germany vs France 21:24 (10:9)

Last time these teams met, at the world championship 2015 in December, France walked away with a 10-goal win. But they faced a rather more challenging German side on Wednesday evening, who pushed their visitors right through to the dying minutes.

Germany were ready to hit the ground running from the whistle, adding the first two goals to the score board before France joined them.

Though both teams rotated through almost their entire squad list and most players contributed goals to the close encounter, the match was dominated by perennial high scorers Susan Müller and Allison Pineau (seven goals each).

Through the first 30 minutes nothing could separate the teams, with neither able to move ahead by more than one goal before the other side would answer.

It was Germany that took a narrow lead into the break, but they returned to face the same determined French team and endured a tense second half in which the visitors pulled ahead by two goals more than once.

But every time France increased their lead to two, Germany would respond, and it was not until Pineau took the guests in front to 23:21 in the 59th minute that a victor was found.

The away win means France move up to six points and first place on the table with Germany second ahead of Iceland and Switzerland, who play their round three match on Thursday.


TEXT: Courtney Gahan / bc
 
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