Gullden leads Sweden to first EHF EURO bronze

REVIEW: An early red card for Linnea Torstenson did not stop Sweden on their way to a podium finish as they beat Montenegro 25:23 to claim bronze

Photo: Stephane Pillaud

Sweden have won their first bronze medal at Women's EHF EURO level and will finish on the podium for the second time on this level after they had taken silver at the EHF EURO 2010.

The Scandinavians beat the already dethroned champions from Montenegro in a close battle 25:23 (11:12) thanks to an improvement after the break and seven goals of the once more outstanding Isabelle Gullden.

The 25-year-old centre back received the tournament's MVP award at the end of the game.

"This was definitely the best Christmas gift ever. Montenegro played fantastic and when Linnea Torstenson received the red card after only twelve minutes it even became tougher for us. So I am really proud on my team. We have a lot of players we could use this was the advantage," Sweden coach Helle Thomsen said.

Sweden had been hit hard very early as their second prolific centre back Linnea Torstenson was sent off with a direct red card after only eleven minutes of play following a foul against Majda Mehmedovic.

It was a bit of a repetition of events as Montenegro's Suzana Lazovic had received a direct red card because of a foul against Torstenson when both teams had met in the main round.

Temporarily Montenegro benefitted from Torstenson's absence, forging ahead to 10:7 after 21 minutes. At this stage they were backed by the saves of goalkeeper Sonja Barjaktarovic, who was eventually awarded Montenegro's best player.

But Sweden stroke back with three unanswered goals, before both sides missed a huge number of chances until the end of the first half when Montenegro were ahead 12:11.

Sweden then had the better start as they scored another three times in a row to bring the score to 14:12. At 16:13 the gap stood at three goals for the first time.

However, Montenegro did not give up, showed moral and they were vocally spurred on by hundreds of vociferous fans in the stands.

At 18:18 the game was open again, even though most of the time it was Sweden who took the lead before Montenegro levelled again - and not the other way round.

It seemed as if the Scandinavians still had more power left and they furthermore had more options to bring players in from the bench compared to Montenegro.

"I am proud of my team, and this fourth places brings us much closer to the Olympic Games in Rio. At the next tournament we will be better," Montenegro coach Dragan Adzic said.

When Katarina Bulatovic scored her 100th goal at an EHF EURO event to bring her team back with goal at 24:23 two and a half minutes before the end, the Montenegrin fans went crazy.

But Anna-Maria Johansson spoiled the party when she netted to make it 25:23 57 seconds before the final buzzer.

Then Johana Bundsen saved a penalty shot of Bulatovic, and the first EHF EURO bronze medal for the Swedish women was confirmed.

"The saves of our goalkeeper in the last minutes were the keys to this win," Johanna Ahlm praised their goalkeeper.

Isabelle Gullden in particular will have even more to celebrate as it is very likely that she will, on top of her MVP award, also receive the top scorer award.

The Swedish centre back added seven goals to her tally, finishing the tournament on 58 - 16 goals ahead of Spanish Carmen Martin who is on 42 before the final.

Those 58 goals of Gullden are the third highest amount of goals by a single in Women's EHF EURO history.

In 2004 Hungary's Bojana Radulovics netted 72 times, in 2000 Romanian Simona Gogirla scored 68 times, in 2006 German Nadine Krause scored, like Gullden, 58 goals.

written by Björn Pazen / ts


Group B: Romania vs. Denmark