PREVIEW: For the first time in its men's national team history, Norway have reached the final of a World Championship, beating Croatia 28:25 in the semi-final on Friday night
Norway beat Croatia to set up final clash against France
Norway have a new hero: Torbjoern Bergerud.
The 22-year-old goalkeeper, who plays for TTH Holstebro in Denmark, saved a penalty of Croatia's Zlatko Horvat on the buzzer of regular time in the semi-final of the World Championship 2017, denied Croatia the win and took the game to extra time in which Norway eventually won 28:25.
It is the first time that Norway's men have reached the final of any major international tournament, and no matter the outcome of the final against defending champions France on Sunday, the World Championship 2017 will go down in history of Norwegian handball as it will mark the first medal for the men's team.
In the match for third place Croatia face Slovenia on Saturday.
“It’s so huge for us, we’ve never been there before. It’s unbelievable, we lost to Croatia in the [EHF EURO 2016] bronze medal match last year,” said Bergerud after the game.
Commenting on his crucial save, he said: “I watched some video before the match – he (Zlatko Horvat) loves to shoot down by my left foot and I just went 100% for that, it was amazing (to save it).”
While France will enter the final arguably as favourites and with the possibility to win a record sixth World Championship title, all what Norway have to do is to remember what they did against them one year ago.
At the EHF EURO 2016 in Poland, on 27 January, they beat France 29:24 in the tournament's main round.
“It’s going to be a really tough match but now we are in the final it’s going to be a special match. There are going to be many people in the arena. I can’t speak it’s just amazing to be in the finals," said Bergerud.
Strong defences dominate semi-final
The semi-final was dominated by the teams' strong defences. After seven minutes of play only two goals had been scored, with Croatia leading 2:0.
Bjarte Myrhol scored the first for Norway after eight minutes and eventually the Scandinavian side found a better rhythm. With five minutes left in the first half, they led 11:8 and took a 12:10 lead into the break.
However, it took Croatia only two minutes to equalise and they led by two on numerous occasions in the second half, the last being at 22:20 with five minutes left to play.
They failed to score though in these final five minutes, allowing Norway to level the game and taking the game to extra time when Bergerud saved Horvat's penalty on the buzzer.
In extra time the match was all square until the 66th minute and the score of 25:25, but then Norway scored the final three goals of the game to set up a historic final against France.
TEXT: EHF / ts
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