Romania, Denmark, Norway and Russia reach the semi-finals of the World Youth Championship in Montenegro
All-European World Championship semi-finals
Four European teams will fight for the medals at the IV Women’s Youth World Championship in Montenegro – and all three medallist of the 2011 EHF U17 EURO are represented: Romania will face European Championship runners-up Denmark in the first semi-final on Friday in Bar, bronze medallist Norway will fight for gold against European champions Russia.
Hungary – Romania 25:31 (13:17)
In a highly emotional match, Romania showed more team spirit, counted on the better goalkeeper and were clever and patient enough to stand the crucial moments.
On the other side they could not stop the outstanding Hungarian back-court shooters Luca Szekerczes and Krisztina Barany, who hit the net 12 times in total – but their spell was over, when Szekerczes missed too many chances in the end. Romanian goalkeeper Denisa Dedu (14 saves) was cold as ice in the final stages. Even a double time-out in the 14 minutes did not stop the initial Hungarian downswing, as they were below 6:12 after 17 minutes.
But then they rose like a phoenix from ashes, reduced the gap before the break to 12:13 and in the middle of the second half to 23:24 – but in this decisive stage they were unable to take the lead. Latest this match of two world class teams was decided at 31:26 in minute 56.
Japan – Denmark 25:31 (17:15)
A tremendous improvement after the break was the key for the semi-final spot for Denmark.
Surprisingly Japan had full control of the match in the first half and even missed to gain a bigger gap at the half-time buzzer. The runners-up of the European championship could not cope with the mobile and fast Japanese and the seven of overall ten goals of Haruno Sasaki.
But everything changed after the break: By strengthening their defence and profiting from their height advantages from the back court positions, Denmark first equalised at 18:18 and then punished the Asian runners-up badly, who scored only three goals in the first 14 minutes of the second half. When Annika Meyer scored the 27:22 the Japanese resistance was broken.
Russia – Sweden 31:30 (12:13, 26:26) after extra-time
A “solo” by their top star Anna Vyakhireva clinched the berth to the semi-finals for Russia.
Thanks to the eleven goals and several assists by the right back the European champions turned the match in the second half against the hard fighting Swedes, who will no longer be able to defend their 2010 World Championship title anymore.
But the Russians needed 70 minutes to bring down the Scandinavians. The decisive goals three last goals in extra-time – causing tears on the Swedish side - were scored by Daria Bogdanova.
The Scandinavians played highly concentrated handball and were tactically fully prepared for the Russians – the only player they could not stop was Vyakhireva.
Six minutes before the break the “Tre-Kronor” team was in the lead with three goals for the first time at 11:8 and kept this distance until the middle of the second half.
But when the Russians changed their goalkeeper to Kira Trusova, strengthened their defence and the brilliant Vyakhireva scored a series of outstanding and crucial goals, the match was leveled at 20:20 – and the European champions even extended the lead to 25:23. But nothing was decided even with the final buzzer.
At the score 26:26 both teams missed passes in the final minute. Russia got the last chance, but the direct free-throw of Polina Vedekhina was blocked. After the first five minutes of extra-time, everything was possible, then Bogdanova made her teammates jump for joy scoring the decisive 31:29.
France – Norway 19:32 (5:17)
The Norwegian express was in full speed mode, as the French girls failed in attack, either due to technical mistakes or against the Scandinavian defence or goalkeeper.
And the 2011 European bronze medallist punished nearly every French error by a counter-attack goal. With five opening strikes Norway gained confidence and shocked France, then the Scandinavians paved the winner’s way with their first double-figured result at 13:3 in minute 22.
The fully dominant Norwegians did not even to give 100% after the break. Kristin Venn topped the well-balanced Norwegian scorer list with six goals.
Semi-finals on 25 August in Bar:
18:15 hrs local time: Romania – Denmark
Placement round 5-8 on 25 August in Bar:
Hungary – Japan
In the additional placement rounds, which started on Thursday, nearly all European teams won their encounters.
Placement round 9-12:
World championship host Montenegro missed a Top-10-ranking on home ground.
After being defeated by the Netherlands 27:32 (14:15) in their placement round opener, the Balkan team will face Pan American champions Brazil in the 11/12 placement match on Friday.
The Dutch team fight for the ninth rank against Korea.
Placement round 13-16:
Two European teams fight for the 13th and 14th positions on Friday. Czech Republic and Croatia.
The Croats, who beat Kazakhstan easily 46:23 (21:15) had ranked 9th at the 2011 European Championship. Czech Republic beat Angola 27:20 after a clear improvement after the break (8:13) and finished 12th on home ground in 2011.
Placement round 17-20:
Portugal still wait for their first point in Montenegro. After four defeats in the preliminary round they lost their opener in the placement round against Uruguay 29:31 (14:20) and now face Paraguay in the 19/20 placement match.
TEXT: Björn Pazen
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