20/12/2020

Day 18: Norway are EHF EURO 2020 champions

NEWS: Norway beat France 22:20 to take an eighth EHF EURO title; Croatia win a historic bronze medal after beating Denmark 25:19

Norway won the EHF EURO 2020 title. Photo © Uros Hocevar / kolektiff

The Women's EHF EURO 2020 champions will be crowned this evening. Follow for updates of the final, the bronze medal match and all the lead-up throughout the day

21:45

That's all from us here in Herning. Thank you to everyone who has watched the tournament, cheered from home, commented or liked a social media post, or followed the news and analysis we've been posting. We hope you enjoyed every moment as much as we did.

21:33

There are going to be so many special memories from this tournament for all of us.

20:00

The highlights of the final - in case you're already having withdrawal symptoms.

And here are the highlights of Cléopatre Darleux's match. She was named Grundfos Player of the Match for a performance in the second half that got France right back into it.

19:57

The ceremony ends with a rousing rendition of the Norwegian national anthem. 

19:52

The officials involved in the ceremony have all been in the red bubble with the teams, but the teams are, in a break from tradition, putting their own medals around their necks.

19:47

It's medals time, and Croatia, nicknamed the "queens of shock" have come out in tiaras and waving in a suitably royal fashion.

19:34

Norway get their revenge on France for the World Championship 2017 final, which went in France's favour, and are undefeated in the entire tournament. France lost this one, but can still be proud with silver after an excellent campaign.

19:28 | FULL-TIME FRANCE 20:22 NORWAY

Norway win their eighth EHF EURO title! 

19:26

The equaliser here by Nora Mørk might have been key to Norway regaining their lead. With 12 seconds left Thorir Hergeirsson calls a time-out, but it's 22:20 to his side.

19:20

Nora Mørk and Henny Reistad retake the lead for Norway at 20:19 with about five minutes to play. It's heated stuff in Herning!

Grace Zaadi Deuna receives her third suspension and therefore a red card. 

19:18

Another penalty and France lead 19:18 for the first time since the eighth minute of the match.

19:12

France earn a penalty and Grace Zaadi Deuna nets it to equalise at 17:17, before Skogrand adds her fourth of the match to keep Norway ahead.

19:11

Norway are under pressure at 17:16. Stine Skogrand drops the ball from a pass and Pauletta Foppa grabs it, giving France a chance to equalise.

19:08

Less than a quarter of the match to go and Norway lead 17:15, following yet another save by Silje Solberg.

19:04

France have amped up their defence and their attack, and are back within a goal off Norway at 15:16 after a 4:0 run.

18:58

Three saves in a row for Darleux here. It's 16:12 to Norway in a fast-paced game.

18:52

France are still employing a 7-on-6 tactic, and when Norway are in possession Cléopatre Darleux is now in goal. She makes a good save to stop Norway's first attack; then Pauletta Foppa's effort hits the post.

18:50

Stine Skogrand scored the fastest goal in the first half, at 110 km/h - huge!

18:39 | HALF-TIME FRANCE 10:14 NORWAY

One word: wow! This is peak handball and it is exactly what we expected before the big showdown between the only two undefeated teams at the EHF EURO 2020.

Two experienced coaches in Thorir Hergeirsson and Olivier Krumbholz had little time to prepare before the game, therefore thought out of the box and came up with surprises. Top scorer of the tournament, Nora Mørk had some stints playing on the left back instead of her normal right back position, while France substituted their goalkeeper to bring an extra attacker, creating a seven-on-six superiority.

But who was better after the first half? As the scores suggests, it was Norway, who had two flawless runs of 4:0 and 5:0 for the backbone of their lead, 14:10. Sure, they were complacent in defence and had four turnovers in the first six minutes, when France looked like the stronger team in this final. But with a magnificent Silje Solberg between the goal posts (nine stopped shots for a 47 per cent efficiency), the Nordic side looks to be heading to their eighth win at the EHF EURO.

France? Well, they should never be counted out. The French defence shapeshifted constantly from the traditional 6-0 to the more aggressive 5-1, but, all in all, they did not find the extra push in attack needed to match Norway. Is it all over? Not yet.

18:29

After a few minutes with no goals from either team, Olivier Krumbholz calls his second time-out of the match and holds an intense conversation almost in the middle of the court. France trail 7:11 with three and a half minutes to go in the first half.

 18:23

Norway have stretched out to a 10:6 lead now. Both goalkeepers are doing their best and we've seen a few back-to-back saves like this.

18:15

Alexandra Lacrabère interrupts a 5:0 run for Norway and brings it back to 5:7. 

18:11

Camilla Herrem equalises for Norway, it's 4:4 after 10 minutes.

18:08

France are getting the better of it so far. They lead 3:2 after six and a half minutes. Silje Solberg has helped though by making a couple of excellent saves for Norway.

18:02

Throw off! Pauletta Foppa scores first for France.

17:45

As it's the FINAL, not one, but two head-to-heads stat graphics today! First up, the teams' performances so far overall. Norway boast the better efficiency and a stronger attack, but France have a better defence. 

At centre back, Grace Zaadi Deuna and All-star Team member Stine Oftedal will have critical roles to play for their teams. Oftedal has scored more and made more assists, but Zaadi Deuna makes more passes and their efficiency rates are pretty similar.

17:30

We had a real treat in the bronze medal game, but this is the real deal. France and Norway are not only the last two winners of the competition, but also the only unbeaten sides at the EHF EURO 2020. A cunning Norwegian attack will look to find the key to the French stronghold, as Olivier Krumbholz’s side applied the same successful recipe: a commanding defence that stopped everything the opponents threw their way.

But on the other side, this will be France’s biggest test. Norway have the best attack in the competition, scoring at a record-breaking pace of 33.1 goals per match, and won all their seven games played at the EHF EURO 2020. The Norwegian side has never lost the title when they started the EHF EURO with seven wins in a row, but their opponents are also riding a 14-game unbeaten streak that goes back to 2018.

The old saying goes that defences win titles, but will it also be the case tonight? There are interesting match-ups which feature two backs who can do almost anything in the EHF EURO 2020 - MVP Estelle Nze Minko and Norway’s centre back Stine Oftedal - but also between two experienced goalkeepers in Amandine Leynaud (32 per cent save efficiency) and Katrine Lunde (38 per cent save efficiency).

We cannot wait to find out the name of the EHF EURO 2020 champion and I bet you are also pumped, after an 18-day marathon that featured 47 games.

17:23

Katarina Jezic won the Grundfos Player of the Match award for Croatia and was escorted by her teammates to collect her placard, and mobbed by them afterwards. Croatia could not contain their sheer joy at their victory.

16:59 | FULL-TIME CROATIA 25:19 DENMARK

Croatia win bronze. It's a historic first medal for the women's team at a major championship. Denmark had no answers in the second half.

16:51

Denmark have taken their goalkeeper off and are playing 7 on 6, but they lose the ball and it's back in Croatia's possession.

16:50

Andrea Simara nets and it's 23:18 to Croatia. Denmark haven't scored for 14 minutes and Jesper Jensen calls a time-out. The hosts have less than six minutes to make up a five-goal deficit.

16:48

Croatia have had possession 57 per cent of the time. It's a slow match, which is benefitting the Croats right now.

16:45

After a time-out by Nenad Sostaric and some more physical defence by Denmark, Stela Posavec broke through and Croatia lead 22:18.

16:42

Both teams defending hard and Croatia still have the upper hand, with just over 11 minutes to play. 

16:38

Croatia have won a couple of turnovers in a row now and lead 21:18 after Katarina Jezic's fifth goal. The captain is leading from the front. 

16:32

Jesper Jensen has put Althea Reinhardt in goal and she made a good save, followed by Lærke Nolsøe equalising at 17:17. Paula Posavec then put Croatia back ahead, and Jensen has called a time-out.

16:28

Croatia hold a two-goal lead at 16:14.

16:22

The second half has begun. Croatia defended well as Denmark threw off, turned over, and after a short period of intense defence by Denmark Ana Debelic broke through to score.

16:10 | HALF-TIME CROATIA 11:11 DENMARK

For a good few minutes it looked as though we were on the way to a repeat of Croatia’s semi-final. Two days ago, Croatia fell decisively behind France in the first 30 minutes and could not come back in the second half, despite pulling their game together and playing a far more equal second period.

In today’s medal battle, five unanswered goals for Denmark looked to be very dangerous for Croatia, but they were quick to reduce the distance thanks to a combination of goals from the line and an improving Tea Pijevic in goal.

On Denmark’s side, Croatia have managed to halt the flow of fast breaks and fast restarts that have proved so damaging for the hosts’ recent opponents, including Norway in the semi-final and Russia in the deciding main round game. Denmark are also struggling in defence a little, and Sandra Toft has made an uncharacteristic three saves at 21 per cent.

The result of all this is the equal game, and what could be better to decide a medal?  

16:01

Stela Posavec put Croatia 8:7 up and in the battle as Denmark sought to equalise Camila Micijevic went crashing to the floor. Her teammates crowded around her and she's on the bench icing her forehead, but smiling.

Rikke Iversen equalised after that pause, and Louise Burgaard then added another goal for Denmark, before Josipa Mamic made it 9:9.

15:58

Now Denmark are on the run. Croatia have brought it back to 7:7 with a series of good saves by Tea Pijevic and a couple of excellent shots from their captain Katarina Jezic.

15:50

Croatia's early lead is completely turned about now and it's 7:4 to Denmark. Sandra Toft is on a 33 per cent save efficiency and Althea Reinhardt saved a 7m penalty throw by Dora Krsnik. Combined with three shots from Anne Mette Hansen, two from Mette Tranborg and two from Lærke Nolsøe, Denmark are now looking dangerous unless Croatia can force their way back into the game. Nenad Sostaric calls a time-out.

15:42

Sandra Toft is starting to make saves and Mette Tranborg has equalised for Denmark at 4:4 just after 10 minutes gone. Denmark are starting to pick up the pace a bit, perhaps realising that they can't let Croatia play slow. 

15:36

Finally some better news for the hosts, after they steal the ball and Anne Mette Hansen nets a 9m. 3:1 to Croatia.

15:33

Croatia have made a great start. Camila Micijevic scores one of her trademark long-range shots and Tea Pijevic saves at the other end. Micijevic then adds a second goal to her tally for tonight. Denmark have come out a little slow and will need to start scoring soon.

15:31

The bronze medal match is underway and Dora Krsnik scores first for Croatia!

15:10

Looking at the head-to-head stats for the competition, Denmark have an advantage with more goals scored and fewer conceded, although there is only a 3 percentage point difference in attack efficiency rate. When it comes to the goalkeepers, the hosts will want Sandra Toft to be on top form but Tea Pijevic can compete on save efficiency at her best. 

15:00

There are only 30 minutes to go until the bronze medal match between Croatia and Denmark.

We have a very exciting bronze medal match ahead! While Croatia have the chance to earn their very first medal in any competition, Denmark hope to end a long wait to make it onto the EHF EURO podium. After taking three titles in the early editions, the EHF EURO 2020 hosts have not won a medal at this event since 2004 and they are very hungry to put an end to that record on their home court.

Spectators or not, the feeling in the media calls on Saturday was that Denmark are still feeling both the responsibility and benefits that come with being the hosts. We can bet plenty of Danes will be tuning in for the match today and their team will hope to build on their increasingly impressive form to secure the medal. As Sandra Toft said on Saturday: “We are playing for all of Denmark.”

But Croatia also have huge support they are very aware of behind them and the chance for an even more historic moment could be a great motivator. Croatia will have to avoid first-half nerves and missed chances like those they endured in the semi-final against France if they are to do it.

And a little fun fact: looking back to January, the bronze medal match at the Men’s EHF EURO was also between a side that had never won a EURO medal (Norway) and a team that had last taken one in 2004 (Slovenia). As we know, Norway were the victors on that occasion. Let’s see if Croatia can follow their example! 

13:34

Confident words from Norway!

12:52

Not too long to go now - the clock is ticking down!

12:02

Here they are, the All-star Team for the EHF EURO 2020! Congratulations to the nine players on the team. Watch the video for their best moments.

11:25

The final pitches the two unbeaten teams of the tournament against each other. France have not lost a game in the last 14 EHF EURO matches they have played, and Norway have won their last 11. France have never finished an EHF EURO without a loss, so a win tonight would be their first undefeated run.

Other milestones are reached tonight as well: Katrine Lunde will tie Karoline Breivang as the Norwegian player with the most EHF EURO caps, 52. France's Siraba Dembélé Pavlovic sets a new record tonight with 54 EHF EURO matches under her belt. Meanwhile Nora Mørk is on track to score 50 goals in a single tournament as she needs just two.

10:15

Here's the preview of the bronze medal match. It's been a while since Denmark won any major championship silverware and Croatia have never done so. Denmark are certainly more experienced but have been rebuilding their team, while Croatia have already made history. The question for Croatia is whether they can shake off the nerves that showed in Friday's semi-final and play with the uninhibited freedom they showed earlier in the competition. Denmark's coach Jesper Jensen said on Friday that he was confident they can been the Croats.

09:30

Finals day is here! After over two weeks of thrilling handball action, passion and emotion, the big day has dawned and tonight we'll find out which team is named Women's EHF EURO 2020 champion. It's either France or Norway. Are you ready?

written by ehf-euro.com