Norway start main round with a thrilling victory

MATCH REVIEW: Norway emerged the victors in Group I's second main round match on Saturday, recording a 29:26 win against Spain as their unbeaten EHF EURO 2014 run continues

Photo: Uros Hocevar

The spectators at the Fönix Hall in Debrecen was treated to a spectacular show when Norway defeated Spain 29:26 in Group I's second main round match on Saturday.

With the maximum of six points on their account the EHF EURO record winners are already close to qualifying for the semi-finals in Budapest on 19 October, while Spain remain on four points.

"In the first half we were struggling to find out how to stand up to Spain in defence, they are playing very well. Our attack in the first half was very good, but Spain scored 16 goals, and that is too much," said Norway's head coach Thorir Hergeirsson.

"The second half was much better, our defence was better and Silje (Solberg, goalkeeper) had a lot of good saves."

The game started quickly with the Spanish attack wasting no time, as captain Marta Mangue and Alexandrina Cabral effortlessly hitting the corner of the goal to put the first goals on the board.

After starting the match with several unforced errors, Norway joined the run of precise shooting that promised a thrilling sixty minutes ahead.

In the tenth minute the score was level at 6:6, when Carmen Martin stepped up to continue her 100 per cent record, which remains after Saturday's match, on penalties at the EHF EURO 2014.

At the 15th minute the score was still level at 9:9.

A two-minute suspension for Spain's Elisabeth Pinedo should have helped Norway edge ahead, but quick defence and a fast break save from Silvia Navarro helped to keep the score line under control.

As the clock wound down a right wing shot from Spain's Marta Lopez over goalkeeper Silje Solberg's head followed by a rocket from Norwegian left back Betina Riegelhuth from ten metres out, to level the score at 16:16 right on the half-time whistle, made it clear the match was only going to get tougher.

When the match resumed Norway quickly edged ahead by two (20:18) courtesy of some fast break goals.

Their flatter 6-0 defence troubled the Spanish players, many of whom favour breakthroughs over outside shots.

A penalty save from Norwegian Emily Stang Sando gave Norway fresh confidence, until a breakthrough from Nerea Pena, who celebrated her 25th birthday on Saturday with seven goals and the best player award for Spain, and a Martin fast break levelled the score once more (20:20).

Norway were not done however, continuing to put on serious pressure in attack that let them take a two-goal lead (23:21) with fifteen minutes remaining.

Similar to Thursday's match, Solberg put on an outstanding performance in the second half, finishing on a 39 per cent save rate.

With ten minutes left Norway were up by three at 26:23, but a run of Spanish goals and Norwegian errors allowed Spain to come back to 26:26 with five minutes left.

With just over two minutes remaining Norway received a penalty shot that would give them a two-goal lead if scored, but Navarro made a quick save to ensure a tense ending to the game.

An outstanding ground shot from Nora Mork in the 59th minute put Norway ahead by two at 28:26, followed by an attacking foul from Mangue that gave Norway possession in the last minute.

Mork struck again to take the score to 29:26, cementing their victory and giving Norway their first two points of the main round.

written by Courtney Gahan / ts


Final: Norway vs. Spain