In a final that was refreshing for being competitive from start to finish and in which the result wasn’t clear until the end Denmark emerged victorious by edging out Russia 27:26. The winning goal officially timed at 30:00 in the second half.
The Danes owned a 15:12 advantage at half time but were pegged back before Russia looked like the most likely to open up a decisive break. The Russians led 22:20 at one point before Denmark levelled at 24:24 and a nervous series of attacks in the final ten minutes saw neither side able to assert themselves.
With thirty seconds left the scores were tied and Russia had the ball – but after a steady build-up their shot went wide and a ludicrous fast break from Denmark saw Freja Kyndbal somehow score whilst the Russian defence tried everything to stop her. There was no time left for a response: cue celebrations for the team in red; despondency for the team in blue. Anne mett Hansen was player of the match with 8 goals from 12 shots.
It’s the second title at this level for the Danes. Norway take the bronze after a 36:30 win over Romania. The hosts will be pretty disappointed to wind up finishing 11th. And for the record the tournament’s top scorer was Aleksandrova Irina of Kazakhstan who powered in 62 goals.
If you want to relive any of the final, it’s here.
After two surprisingly straightforward semi finals the hope is that Russia and Denmark are closely enough matched (they are both unbeaten in the tournament) that the final should be a classic.
Denmark were four up against Romania by the break before running out eventual winners 39:28. Mette Tranborg top-scored for the Danes with 9 goals.
In the other match Russia took over the match after early exchanges of goals. By half time they led by 6 and despite Norway occasionally looking like they might pull it back they never got close enough to really trouble the Russians. The final score was 33:27.
The final will be available here and starts at 5.15pm UK. The bronze medal match is at 3pm UK.
The day of the quarter finals ended in high drama with the match between Sweden and Russia being settled at the very end of extra time by two penalties. Both were legitimate (as much as you can tell in real time on an internet stream) but that didn’t stop the sense of injustice for the victims. Sweden were the unlucky ones – going down 31:30 after a compelling match. They chose often to defend with five on the line and one out blocking – and in extra time the Russians exploited that gap. There really wasn’t much to choose between them though and this really was a high quality game.
The most one-sided of the quarter finals was, possibly surprisingly, the one between France and Norway. The Norwegians owned a 17:5 half time lead and could afford to only win the second half by a goal, running out 32:19 winners. In the other matches, the non-European adventure is over as Japan couldn’t hold a half time lead against Denmark, losing 25:31 and Romania were too strong throughout for Hungary.
The semi finals will be played on 25 August and will be Romania v Denmark and Russia v Norway.
My prediction that Montenegro would ride a wave of home-court advantage all the way to the title is now today’s chip wrappings. The hosts are not one of the eight nations that can go on to win the title. They will now be in the placement games with the best they can hope for being a 9th place finish. The four quarter finals take place on 23 August and will all be streamed live here. Japan is the only non-European team still in the mix.
The draw for the quarter finals is:
Hungary (3-1-0) v Romania (3-0-1);
Japan (3-0-1) v Denmark (3-1-0)
Russia (4-0-0) v Sweden (3-0-1);
France (3-1-0) v Norway (4-0-0)
Match times are UK, (group record in brackets (W-D-L)).
As we enter the last couple of blocks of games there are still five quarter places up for grabs with only Sweden, Romania and France having confirmed their passage, although if, as expected, Russia beat Kazakhstan tonight they will be in the last eight and Montenegro, the hosts, will be playing for placings only.
Last night, Montenegro had a great chance to put their destiny in their own hands. They led Romania 14-9 at the break and led well into the latter stages before their structure collapsed and their shooting became more wild. Romania won 24-22 in the end and celebrated as if the title was theirs, rather than a place in the knock out stages.
Elsewhere Paraguay, Kazakhstan, DR Congo, Czech Republic, Uruguay and Portugal are now playing for pride.
There are four matches today, one from each group (all times UK):
17:15 Paraguay v Hungary; Kazakhstan v Russia
19:30 Czech Republic v Denmark; Portugal v Norway
And they can be seen live here.
Still want to see some reasonably top-level handball in the narrow window between the end of the Olympics and the start of the club season? Well, cast your internet feed in the direction of Montenegro as the official site of the IHF Women’s Youth World Championship will be live-streaming the games from this year’s competition which starts today.
There have been three iterations of this tournament so far and, remarkably, the nine medals available in that time have been won by eight different countries with only Denmark (winners in 2006, bronze in 2008) claiming two. The current holders are Sweden whereas France have lost in the bronze medal match in every single edition of the tournament.
Twenty countries are competing this time around beginning with a round-robin of four groups of five with the top two in each progressing to the quarter finals. Day 1 sees eight matches, most of which are probably foregone conclusions (e.g. Netherlands are 1/5000 to beat Paraguay) but the match between Portugal and Angola (1500 BST) looks intriguing. As for who will win the tournament I’m going for the hosts who seem to have a slightly easier group than some other big-name countries and will then fly to the final inspired by the exploits of their senior counterparts in London.
And France will lose the bronze medal match as that’s the law in these championships.
The official page with link to live stream is here.
And the wiki page with the fixtures laid our nicely is here.