Extraordinary hosts beat EHF EURO champions Denmark by 16 goals in the clearest final ever
Spain crowned world champions following an incredible final
What a match, what a result: Hosts Spain took their second title at World Championships after 2005 with more than just style – they overpowered EHF EURO 2012 champions Denmark by a remarkable result of 35:19 (18:10).
So for the fifth time in history the hosts have won the gold medal after Germany achieved the same in 1938 and 2007, Sweden in 1954 and France in 2001. But never before had the margin been 16 goals - the former record was the 22:12 of Sweden against Czechoslovakia at the World Championship 1958 in the German Democratic Republic.
Attended by 16,500 frenetic and vociferous spectators in the sold-out Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona – including Spanish Crown Prince Felipe and Danish Crown Princess Mary – the Spaniards caused a state of shock to the Danes.
And in the end they were dancing through the arena with the trophy handed over by IHF President Dr. Hassan Moustafa and Prince Felipe, while the disappointed Danes received their silver medals by their Crown Princess Mary.
Denmark lost their third final after 1967 (against Czechoslovakia) and 2011 (against France) and still wait for their first title on the world stage.
They had already lost the game in Barcelona at the break, when Spain was ahead by 18:10. And all Iberians knew whom to thank the most after this incredible match: goalkeeper Arpad Sterbik, who played the match of his life and who shattered all Danish hopes with his saves
The Spanish defence stood like a solid rock, built of granite or concrete, and the Danes desperately tried to get through, but either were blocked, lost the ball or goalkeeper Arpad Sterbik saved the shots.
'It was an incredible experience' says coach Valero
Coach Valero Rivera, who won his first title with the national team after 71 trophies with FC Barcelona, did not believe what he saw.
"We have worked four years for this success, so I have to thank all my players for their hard work, those players, who lost the dramatic Olympic quarter-final, those players, who could not be on the court today like Hombrados, Ugalde or Raul Entrerrios."
And concerning the final result he added: "People not only in Spain will talk in 20 years or more about this match. A result Iike this I never have seen on a scoreboard in a decisive game in my whole life.
"This was an incredible experience. It was the best thing to celebrate this victory with my friends and family in my hometown Barcelona."
Denmark were in such a state of shock that even coach Ulrik Wilbek did not attend the press conference – and goalkeeper Niklas Landin was only able to say that "the time between minute 20 and 30 were the worst in this tournament. I hope we can return in one year."
Those mentioned ten minutes, when Spain forged ahead from 11:8 to 18:10 decided the game, the Danes gave up – and Spain kept on working like a clockwork, extending the gap to 21:11 in minute 34 and even 26:11 in minute 40.
After three decisive defeats against Denmark, at the EHF EURO 2012 semi-final, the World Championship 2011 semi-final and the Preliminary Round at the 2012 Olympics, the spell was more than broken.
Already ten minutes before the end, the Spanish players celebrated by standing on their bench.
And at 18.39 hrs local time on Sunday the dream of their “home gold” had become reality, whole Spain started their big handball party all over the country. As an additional bonus Spain are the first team to qualify for the 2015 World Championship in Qatar.
Croatia win their third bronze in just twelve months
On Saturday, Croatia had won their third bronze medal in only twelve months following the EHF EURO 2012 and the Olympic Games 2012 by beating Slovenia in a one-sided bronze final 31:26 (14:13).
After an equal first half, the Slovenians lost their energies and never were able to threaten the 2003 world champions. By this result, Slovenia missed their first ever medal at World Championships.
EHF Secretary General Michael Wiederer, who attended the final weekend of the World Championship, was impressed by the level of the performances.
"Ten European teams ranked on the first ten positions, EHF EURO champions Denmark finished second, the hosts on top - and Spain took the host’s role in an even more successful role, as Serbia did one year ago (at EHF EURO 2012 when Serbia came second)..
"One saw that the home advantage is really relevant concerning the motivation and the atmosphere. This tournament was a perfect appetiser for the 2014 EHF EURO in Denmark. A lot of teams are in the state of transition and some surprised by their young squads like Germany or Slovenia."
The All Star Team of the 2013 World Championship
Goalkeeper: Niklas Landin (Denmark)
Left wing: Timur Dibirov (Russia)
Left back: Alberto Entrerrios (Spain)
Centre back: Domagoj Duvnjak (Croatia)
Right back: Laszlo Nagy (Hungary)
Right wing: Hans Lindberg (Denmark)
Pivot: Julen Aguinagalde (Spain)
Most Valuable Player: Mikkel Hansen (Denmark)
Top scorer: Anders Eggert (Denmark) – 55
Final overall ranking:
14. FYR Macedonia
*The positions 5-16 are classified according to the following criteria:
a) Number of points gained against the teams ranked 1st to 4th in the Preliminary Round in their group;
b) If two or more teams have gained the same number of points the goal difference in the games mentioned under a) is decisive for the classification;
c) If two or more teams have gained the same number of points as well as the same goal difference in the games mentioned under a) a decision on the classification is made based on the greater number of plus goals in these games;
Photos: Courtesy of IHF photographers Uros Hocevar and Stephane Pillaud
TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
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