Sweden maintain unblemished record to the expense of France

MATCH REVIEW: Sweden record a crucial 29:26 win against France in Main Round Group II after a heroic comeback, which opens the door to the semi-final for the Scandinavians

Photo: Stephane Pillaud

Sweden are en route to the semi-final, after securing crucial two points as they beat France 29:26 (12:14) against France in a rollercoaster match.

The win sees Sweden overtaking France in the group's table with the former on five and the latter still on four points.

After making a flying start to the first half, France went missing without a trace after 33 minutes, as Sweden returned from the half-time break determined to correct their mishaps on both ends.

For Sweden coach Helle Thomsen a victory was rarely in doubt: "We always believe. We are Sweden, a country where strong women live, very tough to beat!"

Despite the 10-goal performance from the in-form French right-back Alexandra Lacrabere, 'Les Bleues' were not up to the task, as the usual stars in the team, Siraba Dembele and Allison Pineau, had a disappointing second half, while Nathalie Hagman played a big game for Sweden scoring all of her seven goals in the second half.

"We had three really tough matches in Osijek. Serbia, Montenegro and Slovakia were all very physical, strong opponents," said France's line player Nina Kamto Njitam.

"That's why we had no energy in the second half and could not find the solutions in attack. At the end, our game fell apart.“

It took more than six minutes for France to score their first goal of the match when Lacraberre levelled the game at 1:1 after smashing a penalty in the top left.

The first lead for France came through the team captain, left winger Siraba Dembele, at 2:3 in 9th minute, and soon after France exploited a run of concentration lapses in the Swedish defence scoring a four-goal unanswered series to bring the score to 2:6 after 14 minutes.

Midway through the first half Sweden lacked composure on both ends as they recorded technical mistakes to the joy of the determined France, who safely kept hold of the steering wheel with a 10:5 lead.

The dying moments of the first half signalled the turn of the tide for Sweden when they brought the score to 12:14.

Sweden even tried to lower their deficit to just one goal, putting all seven players on the court with Johanna Ahlm wearing the goalkeeper's bib, in an attempt to dismantle the dynamic French defence, but another technical error prevented them from being successful with 12:14 remaining the half-time score.

The opening minutes of the second half were a sign of things to come. Sweden equalised for14:14 with two unanswered goals only two minutes into the second period.

Lacrabere then brought back the French lead from penalty for 16:15, for 'Les Bleues' to keep their presence in the game, but only for a short while as Sweden were not surrendering.

The result rollercoaster lasted until ten minutes before the final whistle.

Sweden stopped France from taking control of the game, equalising to 22:22 through Isabelle Gullden, who finds pleasure in doing the toughest of tasks for Sweden taking responsibility to shoot under pressure.

The final 10 minutes were marked by a rampant Sweden, as Gullden and Hagman exchanged shots to keep the gap on two goals throughout.

Sweden eventually managed to break France who were starting to become aware that only something extraordinary will see them keep their hold of anything from this match.

But Natalie Hagman sealed the faith of the French team setting the final score to 29:26 which sees Sweden maintain an unblemished record at the Women's EHF EURO 2014.

written by Nemanja Savic / ts


MR I: Poland vs. Denmark