Epic shootout sees Sweden win first ever junior beach gold
Gold medal match Men's Under-17 Beach Handball EURO
Spain 1:2 Sweden (30:21, 26:27, 18:19)
Sweden goalkeeper Oscar Johannson was the hero as his two two flying saves in a dramatic shootout helped win his nation their first ever EHF Beach Handball EURO title.
In one of the most incredible finals in recent history, the Swedes – playing in their first tournament at junior level – fought back after losing the first set to Spain to win gold in breathtaking fashion.
Spain, chasing a third junior men’s title, took the first set comfortably by nine points, stopping the tournaments’ top goalscorer, the Swedes’ Victor Paldanius, from adding to his tally.
But the drama began in a second set that looked to be heading Sweden’s way when they led by six points. Spain, however, got to within two points with 20 seconds left on the clock and then completed the comeback to level the score when Joaquin Varo Gallardo equalised with just four seconds remaining.
That goal took the second set to a golden goal period and, after Sweden secured the ball from throw-off, that man Paldanius scored the one point required to take the game to a shootout.
What followed was a remarkable fight for the gold medal as both sides traded two-point penalties. After 16 perfect points for each team, Sweden were the first to miss. However, that was the cue for Johansson to leap out of his goal to deny Spain their shot at the title.
Back at 18 points apiece in the shootout, Johansson then re-enacted his best Superman impression with another brilliant diving save to tilt the scales in the Swede’s favour.
It was then left to tournament goal-getter Paldanius to fittingly finish the job, the young Swede holding his nerve to find the target to give Sweden a historic and memorable victory.
Ukraine defy the odds to take third
In the bronze medal match it was Ukraine who took the honours, beating Croatia in straight sets (24:21, 16:12).
The Ukrainians’ feat was even more remarkable given they had lost four games in total throughout the tournament (once in the preliminary round, twice in the main round and their semi-final) before going onto secure a place on the podium.
Croatia, whose under-17 team won the gold medal two years ago, had to settle for fourth place.
Men's final ranking
1. Sweden, 2. Spain, 3. Ukraine, 4. Croatia, 5. Germany, 6. Russia, 7. France, 8. Poland, 9. Czech Republic, 10. Netherlands, 11. Hungary, 12. Romania, 13. Greece, 14. Slovenia, 15. Bulgaria.
Fair Play Team: Romania
Best Goalkeeper: Antonio Kranjcevic (Croatia)
Best Defender: Oscar Johannson (Sweden)
Top Scorer: Victor Paldanius (131 points)
MVP: Joaquin Varo Gallardo (Spain)