Like Russia in the group I opener, France had some nervous minutes to end their first main round match, as they fended off an impressive comeback from the World Championship 2019 silver medallists Spain to clinch a 26:25 victory.
France’s superb defence was once again on display, particularly in the first period, as they kept the World Championship 2019 silver medallists to their lowest number of goals scored in the first have so far at the EURO. But Spain proved they can never be written off until the final whistle, as they fought back for a thrilling finish to the game.
France vs Spain 26:25 (16:10)
- Spain were left chasing from the fifth minute on, as France steadily pulled away from there to their decisive half-time advantage. It was the title-holders’ highest scoring first half so far at the EURO
- four of Spain’s first-half goals came from the penalty line courtesy of Carmen Martin, showing just how much they had trouble converting their attacks into good chances from the field in the opening 30 minutes
- as they did against Czech Republic in their last match of the preliminary round, Spain fought back from a clear deficit and came within two thanks to Martin’s 194th EHF EURO goal, 19:21
- critical saves from Amandine Leynaud – including the first against Martin on a penalty at this EURO – paved the way for France to reopen a clearer lead early in the final 10 minutes, but the ‘Guerreras’ once again came back
- the last goal of the game came from Lara Gonzalez with 21 seconds on the clock, but Spain could not add another goal to secure a draw
Carmen Martin rockets up all-time top scorer standings
Spain captain and spectacular shooter Martin wrote incredible history on Thursday night. Martin entered the match with a career total of 186 goals at the EHF EURO, in sixth position on the all-time top scorer standings. She left the court with 195.
With her fifth goal, she passed Norwegian Linn-Kristen Riegelhuth Koren to take fifth position. With her eighth, Martin overtook her former CSM Bucuresti teammate Isabelle Gulldén in fourth – who had reached that place earlier in the EURO. The eighth goal also drew Martin level with German Grit Jurack.
But Martin was not done – her ninth goal saw Martin pass Jurack, taking her from sixth on the all-time standings to third in one game.
France left back Kalidiatou Niakate said: “We are happy to win this game. For me, we did a really good first half. We were aggressive in defence also. I think maybe 15 minutes in the second half, we missed this aggression, but we are happy to win.”
Spain left back Carmen Campos said: “I’m so proud of my team. At the beginning of the match we weren’t focused, we lost some passes – we did not play as we usually do. But in the second half, even losing by six goals, we didn’t lose faith and we still fight and we gave everything."