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10/12/2014

Quality performance against disjointed Serbia grants France main round berth

MATCH REVIEW: With one match to spare France advance to the main round courtesy of an an unexpectedly high 27:16 win in Group D against a lacklustre Serbia

Photo: Stephane Pillaud

France went into Wednesday's game against Serbia fully determined not to leave their fate undecided until their last Group D match against Montenegro on Friday - and after 60 minutes they had bagged a convincing 27:16 win and also a ticket to the main round.

The team of head coach Alain Portes opened the match strongly, with three unanswered goals unanswered in the first eight minutes.

Poor composure and technical errors from early on prevented Serbia from playing as fluently as they would have liked, while France exploited every opportunity to score from their fast breaks.

Serbia coach Sasa Boskovic had decided against putting additional strain on Andrea Lekic, as Sanja Damnjanovic started on the centra back position again, just like she did in the match against Montenegro.

On the French side of the game, goalkeeper Laura Glauser orchestrated the dynamic defence as the high-tempo set on both ends by the French team was too much for the fatigued Serbian side who were trailing 2:6 after 15 minutes of play.

To add to the confusion of the Serbian team, France quickly switched to a high-pressing defence in a bid to increase the lead by half-time - and another four consecutive goals granted them a 10:2 lead.

At half-time the score stood at 11:3 for France, which for Serbia meant a record they surely never wanted. Never before had team scored fewer goals at a Women's EHF EURO event. The previous 'record' had stood at 5 goals in one half (Netherlands vs Hungary 5:12 in 1998, Russia vs Sweden 5:8 in 2008).

"I don't know what to say. We underestimated them, thought that we knew all about them, but it was not seen on court," said left back Biljana Bandelier.

"We were smart enough to talk about their play before the match, but did not show that where it was the most important – on court."

The Opening minutes of the second period saw the worries increasing for Serbian. France recorded a double-digit lead, four minutes into the second period, as Nina Kamto-Njitam netted after a nicely set-up team play to put her team 14:4 in front.

The second half saw Kristina Liscevic play her 50th international match for Serbia but she was still looking fragile after her injury prior to the EHF EURO 2014.

Too many penalties conceded by the disjointed Serbian defence only allowed France to prevent them from lowering the lead to single digits with ten minutes to go until the final whistle (12:22).

"We played a perfect game in defence. We were compact, aggressive and we found the right solutions. And every time we conceded a goal, we ran a lot to counter it and go on attacking,"said France Nina Kamto.

"In this match we were better than in the match we won against Slovakia."

Preventing any further injuries trough rotation was the only thing on coach Boskovic's agenda in the dying minutes of the match, the only consistent players in his team were Jovana Stiljkovic and Sanja Rajovic, with four goals each, with the later boasting a 100 per cent record.

Jelena Popovic, was playing on the right wing, to rest Katarina Krpez, but the Serbian right back was feeling awkward in her new role, scoring only one goal from six attempts.

A number of excellent saves from Laura Glauser, often directly converted into goals from the semi-counter attacks, were a tell-tale sign for the poor concentration in the Serbian defence in the final minutes, as France put the game beyond doubt with a brace from Gnabouyou to deal the finishing blow for the sorry Serbian side with 27:16 being the final score.

written by Nemanja Savic / ts

Photos

MR II: Sweden vs. Slovakia