15/12/2020

Denmark secure last semi-final place

GROUP I REVIEW: Denmark earned the last semi-final place at the EHF EURO 2020 with a commanding 30:23 win against EHF EURO 2018 silver medallists Russia

Sandra Toft again led her side to victory, and to the semi-finals. Photo © Uros Hocevar / kolektiff

Denmark booked a place in the EHF EURO 2020 semi-final with a strong victory against Russia, 32:23, which saw the tournament hosts clearly in control throughout the game.

Denmark keep a perfect record of semi-final qualifications at EUROs on home ground alive with the win against Russia – all three previous times Denmark have hosted or co-hosted the event, they played for the medals. Overall it is their eighth semi-final participation at the EHF EURO.

GROUP I

Denmark vs Russia 32:23 (13:9)

  • while everything slid into place perfectly for Denmark, Russia were left chasing their opponents from early in the game, as the hosts’ defence supported by a great Sandra Toft paved the way for the dominant victory
  • Russia’s attack was completely quietened by Denmark’s defence and fast retreats to their line, with Daria Dmitrieva the only one able to find the goal more than once in the opening half and only three goals from the wing players in the entire game
  • Russia goalkeeper Viktoriia Kalinina had her best performance so far at the EURO in the first half, making nine saves at 43 per cent, before she was replaced by Anna Sedoykina for the second period
  • Denmark created a distance of six goals five minutes into the second half, but a three-goal run from Russia brought the EHF EURO 2018 runners-up within closer reach, 20:17, thanks to Dmitrieva’s eighth goal
  • 18:21 in the 44th proved to be the closest Russia could come, as Toft’s saves halted any Russian momentum and opened the door for Denmark to pull away to a decisive lead

Captains shine in crunch time

Russia captain Daria Dmitrieva was the only one in her side to score more than one goal in the opening half. The centre back was a bright light in the attack that struggled to find its way, not only serving as playmaker but stepping up as the top scorer for her side with five goals.

The remainder of the team lost their usual rhythm, and that was in large part due to the great defence they faced and the support from Denmark’s own captain, Sandra Toft.

Toft finished the first half with a rate of 55 per cent, playing a key role in causing frustration amid Russia’s attack, and tallied a total of 14 saves at 44 per cent at the final whistle. Her performance earned her the Grundfos Player of the Match award. 

Match reaction

Denmark coach Jesper Jensen said: “What an execution of all the things that we’ve been talking about. Again that proves that we have so much physical [strength] and all the staff members around the team are doing a great job keeping the players this fit after game five in the tournament. We had a feeling that we had a physical plus against Russia, and I think we showed it today and especially in our defence where we kept on pushing them physically and also on the fast breaks.”

Russia coach Ambros Martin said: "Even when it was not our game, we didn’t find the right rhythm during the match – not in defence, not in offence. We didn’t also find the solutions for most situations in the attack and I think when we got the chance we missed also some clear situations in our offence. When we scored, especially in the second half, they ran against us – they made many fast breaks and throw-offs after the goal."

written by Courtney Gahan / jh