Ungureanu brilliance helps Romania shock Spain

MATCH REVIEW: Romania have won the first of Group I's second round matches on Monday, defeating Spain 22:20 in an outstanding defensive and goalkeeping battle

Photo: Uros Hocevar

A close match dominated by spectacular goalkeepers ended in a 22:20 Romanian win against Spain, beginning the second round of Group I matches in the Fönix Hall in Debrecen on Monday.

With Spain still on four points, this means that their chances toreach the semi-final round have decreased considerably and depend on results from other matches in this group.

Romania at least kept their theoretical chances alive to reach the final weekend in Budapest.

Goalkeepers Silvia Navarro for Spain and Romania's Paula Claudia Ungureanu made several saves each in the first few minutes, indicating early on that the match would be decided between the posts.

Spain's usually fast attack struggled against the big Romanian defence in the opening minutes, and an injury for Navarro, who was forced to return to the bench, followed by two-minute suspensions for Elisabet Chavez and Carmen Martin did not help.

As the clock neared ten minutes Romania had a two-goal lead before a ground shot from Nerea Pena took the score to 5:4 and Spain began to take control.

As the half moved past the 20 minute mark, Spain held the upper hand at 8:11.

Both keepers were having strong games. Spain's second keeper Ana Temprano finished the first half on 57 per cent while Ungureanu had a 46 per cent save rate in the first period, not to mention being the first keeper able to stop a Martin penalty in the tournament.

“I want to play like this every game, it feels amazing to contribute to the team like this, let’s hope it will continue to the end," Ungureanu said after the game.

As the first thirty minutes came to a close Romania's defence was losing its effectiveness and Ungureanu was keeping the Spanish at bay almost by herself. At half-time Spain led 9:14.

When the second half began a four unanswered goals and strong defence from Romania let them close the score line, coming within one goal at 13:14 eight minutes into the half.

The continuing brilliance from Ungureanu and errors from Spain in attack meant the previously in control side were kept scoreless for the first ten minutes of the half.

A two-minute suspension for Oana Carmina Bondar followed a penalty from Martin finally broke the Spanish drought in the 41st minute (13:15).

Romania's star shooter Cristina Georgiana Neagu, who scored seven times in this match bringing her tally up to an untopped 40 in the entire tournament, levelled the score at 16:16 with just over 15 minutes left in the match, and from there it was a tense battle as the sides scored one for one.

With five minutes remaining the score was even at 18:18, as the goalkeepers showed no signs of making scoring any easier.

In fact, Ungureanu played such an outstanding second half that she increased her save rate to 51 per cent by the end of the match, while Temprano recorded 46 per cent.

As the match entered its final minute Spain trailed by two goals at 21:19.

An intercept followed by a goal from Neagu with 25 seconds left sealed the victory for Romania.

“In the end we had a good defence, a great goalkeeper and a little bit of luck and it all ended in a victory," said Neagu.

written by Courtney Gahan / ts


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