Denmark clinch top of group I with statement win
Denmark secured top of group I with a 31:29 victory against Norway to end the EHF EURO 2022 main round matches in Ljubljana. It was a close game between the two semi-finalists from group I, with Denmark pulling away to a narrow edge in the last 13 minutes.
Denmark had not beaten Norway in an official match since the EHF EURO 2012, and therefore ended a long wait for a victory against the record title holders in the competition.
The result means that Denmark will meet Montenegro in the semi-final, while Norway meet France in a rematch of the EHF EURO 2020 and 2021 World Championship finals, both won by Norway.
Norway vs Denmark 29:31 (13:12)
- the final two points of the main round in Ljubljana were determined mainly from the 47th minute to the 52nd, when Denmark created a three-goal gap that proved decisive
- spearheaded by a great start in defence and saves from Sandra Toft, Denmark opened an early lead. A 4:0 run, with three goals from back Anne Mette Hansen, saw Denmark turn a score of 3:2 against them into a 3:6 advantage by the 10th minute
- from the 10th minute on, neither team could create an edge of more than one goal, until backs Louise Burgaard and Simone Petersen and line player Sarah Iversen netted the goals that took Denmark in front 27:24
- Katrine Lunde (Norway) and Sandra Toft (Denmark) — both the most capped players for their teams at the EHF EURO — had a great battle between the posts in the opening half especially, with 14 saves between them in that period
- the player of the match award went to Hansen, after she scored seven goals for Denmark
Denmark keep focus after booking semi-final
The first game of the day in Ljubljana had Denmark celebrating and all pressure lifted — had Slovenia won against Hungary and Sweden recorded the victory they did against Croatia, Denmark would have needed a win over Norway to progress to the semi-finals. But as Slovenia were defeated by Hungary, Denmark’s place in the medal round was secured.
Coach Jesper Jensen surely prepared his side to focus on their own match no matter the outcome of the earlier games, but teams in this situation can so often end up not performing their best as the situation changes just hours before the game. Therefore, the fact Denmark brought such a great game against Norway confirms their superb form at this EHF EURO.
The opening loss to Slovenia is long behind them and the fact they have earned their first win over Norway since 2012 shows just how ready Denmark are to end their title drought.
It has been a long way coming. I am so proud of the girls and so happy we got this victory. Earlier, we were really happy when Hungary beat Slovenia and then we knew we could just give everything against Norway tonight, and we knew we had to do that to have a chance to win.
Denmark coach Jesper Jensen: “We are very, very happy, very proud. It's been a tough day. Very exhausted now, but I am so, so, so extremely proud of the girls, and proud of the team with the way we've handled these things so far. For us, to beat Norway for the first time in eight years, is a huge effort for us. We have the deepest respect for them, for what they are doing. We have been trying to copy them for a long time, and now we succeeded.”
Norway coach Thorir Hergeirsson: “What we take out of the game is that if you let the opponent score 30 goals, it is difficult to win. This is the most important conclusion. We recover and we will focus on the semi-final against France.”