At times, it looked like Kim Rasmussen was going to start his role as the Montenegrin women’s national team coach with a win.
But Montenegro’s lack of depth in their squad was ultimately their undoing, as title holders France took advantage of every mistake made by their opponent, to throw off the EHF EURO 2020 with a win, 24:23.
France vs Montenegro 24:23 (11:12)
- boosted by right wing Jovanka Radicevic, Montenegro deployed a 4:0 unanswered run to take a commanding 9:4 lead against the title holders after 19 minutes
- France roared back, improving their defence to tie the game after 29 minutes, as Montenegro became careless in possession, losing seven turnovers
- Montenegro’s attacking efficiency dipped from 63 per cent in the first half to 55 per cent at the end of the game, while France improved from 45 per cent to 56 per cent
- France took the lead for the first time in the 52nd minute at 21:20, and never looked back, securing an important, albeit strenuous win against Montenegro
- France will meet Slovenia on Sunday, while Montenegro face Denmark, in a special game for coach Kim Rasmussen, who will play against his home country
French defence comes out on top
With only 10 days to make his mark over the Montenegrin team, after replacing Per Johansson just before the start of the EHF EURO, Kim Rasmussen was close to lifting his side to a superb win against the title holders.
Yet a largely inexperienced Montenegrin side had little answer to France’s experience in the closing minutes, as the reigning champions conceded only five times in the last 20 minutes to seal a crucial win in their bid to defend their title.
France coach Olivier Krumbholz said: "It was a tough game, we knew that Montenegro are a very tough opponent, with very good wings. In the first half, we lacked the required dynamic, probably we were a little afraid of losing. But in the second half, things were better, some of our younger players were very good. We did not dominate against Montenegro, but we came up with two points and this is awesome."
Montenegro coach Kim Rasmussen said: "I asked my players to believe and fight together and they did that today. These are the most important things we have worked on in the past 10 days."