After taking the bronze medal in 2016 and securing their first European title in 2018, France booked their third consecutive EHF EURO semi-final berth as they defeated Sweden 31:25 in their last main round game on Tuesday night.
As France moved up to nine points with the victory, Russia and Denmark will now fight for the second semi-final place in the last match of the night.
France vs Sweden 31:25 (14:14)
- both teams’ goalkeepers – Cleopatre Darleux for France and Jessica Ryde for Sweden – were important early on, with Darleux on 38 per cent while Ryde stood at 50 per cent after 10 minutes, but the two percentages dropped significantly by half-time
- Sweden scored their highest number of first-half goals so far at the EHF EURO 2020 and steadily held the edge through the opening 30 minutes, spearheaded by a great outing from back Jamina Roberts, with four goals in that period
- with her third goal, 8:8 in the 18th minute, Isabelle Gulldén joined Spain’s Carmen Martin in passing 200 goals at the EHF EURO after Martin did so earlier on something of an historic evening in Herning
- France turned the tables completely in the first half, hitting the lead immediately with a goal from Kalidiatou Niakate and following that with two unanswered goals, 17:14, that quickly swung the momentum towards the title holders
- with eight minutes on the clock France opened a five-goal lead, 28:23, and the match was won
Gulldén’s surprise last match
Midway through the match, the news broke from the Sweden team that this would be Isabelle Gulldén’s last game for the national side.
After playing 224 international matches, placing her as the fourth highest on Sweden’s all-time caps list, and scoring 846 goals, the stalwart centre back cited injury problems and time away from family as the reasons she will stop with the national team.
But the 31-year-old finished her national team career in style. The two-time EHF EURO medallist, who also led Sweden to their first ever World Championship semi-final in 2017, leaves Denmark as the third top scorer of all time at EHF EURO events. She counts a total of 203 goals at the event, only two behind Ágnes Farkas in second.
France goalkeeper Cléopatre Darleux said: "It was hard, really hard. Really they played good. Bella Gulldén played, I think, really good with [Jamina] Roberts – they were the two we knew would be really good and they were. It was hard mentally but we just continued to play and stayed focused. We progressed in the game in defence. In the second half it was much better.”
Sweden coach Tomas Axnér said: “France played with many players in the second half and they have a strong, strong, strong bench. I’m not super surprised that we didn’t have the power in the second half, but it was all in in the first half. I think that was the best performance from our team in this tournament – the first 30 minutes. In the second half they got ahead of us a little bit too quick, so they were never nervous – the train went from the station.”