'Guerreras' stun Denmark to take semi-final spot

MATCH REVIEW: A deserved 29:22 win against Denmark in Debrecen on Wednesday earned Spain the remaining semi-final ticket from Main Round Group I

Photo: Uros Hocevar

Spain's 'Guerreras' fought hard to book the second and last Group I semi-final spot with a well-deserved 29:22 (15:12) win against Denmark on Wednesday.

With so much at stake, the match was always going to be a close one between two determined teams.

Spain's big weapon in attack is their pace, and it was clear early on the 6-0 Danish defence was capable of shutting that speed down.

Spanish backcourt players Nerea Pena and Marta Mangue who like to breakthrough had trouble finding gaps, while Alexandrina Cabral's usual outside shots were prevented by the combination of Danish captain Line Jörgensen and Louise Svalastog.

Spain therefore had to work harder than usual to create gaps for precise wing shots from Carmen Martin and Elisabeth Pinedo that gave them a temporary early lead after three minutes (3:1).

"Our team spirit was really visible on the court tonight. We really showed our characters on the court. We lost two games, which were really hard and tough. But today we won," said right wing Carmen Martin.

"Denmark didn’t play very well, and we crushed them. This is true happiness."

Denmark's attack led by Kristina Kristiansen was organised and fast, though a few mistakes early on let them down.

Every error was punished in what was a tense, closely matched first half. At the fifteen minute mark the score was level at 6:6.

Spain's Silvia Navarro, who won the award for best player from Spain, was winning the battle between the posts, recording a 37 per cent save rate in the first half versus Sandra Toft's 15 per cent.

As the period came to an end the combination of Beatriz Fernandez, Macarena Aguilar and Pena allowed Spain to creep ahead, taking a 15:12 lead into the break.

"We’re happy, because we qualified for the semi-final. Today my team enjoyed the match. And when they enjoy it, they are incredible," said Spain's head coach Jorge Duenas.

It was an ominous sign for Denmark when Spain scored first when the match resumed.

Afraid of letting their opponents get too far ahead, Denmark coach Jan Pytlick tried his seven-against-six system that proved so effective against Hungary on Monday.

But the system did not work so well against speedy Spain, who scored enough in the empty goal to end the risky tactic.

Led by strong shooting from Jörgensen (seven goals total) Denmark were fighting to come back, but Spain were in control and looking comfortable.

Spain's lead kept increasing thanks to their trademark fast play, which Denmark were now powerless against.

With ten minutes remaining Spain were ahead 26:18 and it looked as though the match and Group I's second semi-finalist was decided.

Denmark did not give in, but in the end Spain were too strong, finishing the match with a seven-goal lead that earned them a deserved place in the semi-finals.

written by Courtney Gahan / ts


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