We knew Norway were good. We knew they were more than capable of solid defence, strong attack and fighting back. And now they’ve gone and beaten France so comfortably it makes you wonder how some bookies had them as favourites.
The final score was 30:19 – France scoring only 9 in the second half. Norway’s win was built on its trademark solidity, goalkeeper Katrine Haraldsen was in fine form, and backed up by seven goals from Linn Sulland and five from Linn-Kristin Koren. France tried hard for long stretches but could never get close enough. Barring something odd, Norway can now cruise to the semi final stage – France will presumably beat the Czech Republic but then face Serbia in the last match.
Behind Norway, things are a lot less clear over who will claim the other semi final spot. Serbia looked to be about to move into pole-position as they led Sweden 23:18 with 7 minutes to go but three goals from Linnea Torstenson and two from Ulrika Agren meant the match finished level at 23:23. Sweden had had their own five goal lead in the first half but this probably feels more like an opportunity missed for the Serbs.
The Czech Republic can be definite about their future in the tournament. They can’t qualify for the semi finals after a 33:30 loss to Denmark. They more than held their own but after falling two goals behind with quarter of an hour to go were never able to bridge the gap. Denmark were thankful to 10 goals from Ann Grete Norgaard and 20 saves from Sandra Toft. The Czechs actually had more shots in the match and are probably kicking themselves this morning.
Today there are games from both groups … predictions for those coming up later …