Vincent Gerard helps France book main round ticket
We were promised a thriller, but what we got between France and Serbia was a very one-sided business, as France took the upper hand right from the first minute.
Backed by a strong defence and an extraordinary performance by goalkeeper Vincent Gerard, the French side were already ahead by nine at the break, with Kentin Mahe responsible for six of them.
The second half was a walk in the park for France, as they could play without any pressure thanks to the advantage they had taken. Despite Serbia coming back within seven in the last quarter, France did not feel threatened and can now progress to the main round with two points.
- 11 saves in the first half: that was the performance of Vincent Gerard – and that put France in the best position, as Les Bleus were ahead by up to 10 goals in the first 30 minutes
- while he might have used the opportunity to rest some key players, French coach Guillaume Gille stuck to pretty much the same players at the start of the second half, meaning the likes of Nikola Karabatic and Dika Mem kept on playing after the break
- with Lazar Kukic and his teammates throwing all their remaining energy into the game, Serbia did come back on the scoreboard shortly before the final whistle, but no closer than five goals
- France’s goalkeeper Vincent Gerard was elected Grundfos Player of the Match, thanks to his 12 saves and his 46 per cent efficiency rate
- thanks to this win, France proceed to the main round with two points, while Croatia will join them in Group A, with no points. Serbia are now eliminated
Vincent Gerard: the French Wall
It is not often that a goalkeeper stops 10 shots in 30 minutes at a 62 per cent efficiency rate at a EHF EURO 2022 but that is the performance that Vincent Gerard offered the fans in the Pick Arena tonight. Not conceding any goal between minutes 16 and 28, the Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper gave some freedom of mind to his teammates. And that showed, as Kentin Mahe and Dika Mem easily found their way across the Serbian defence.
I’m really happy to finish with three points. It was only the first step towards our goal, and I’m very satisfied with the three games we played. We must keep in mind that this is only the first phase, though.
We were joking that we are champions of Covid, but we don’t want to find excuses. France played amazing handball, especially in defence. I hope that the next time we go to a championship, we can gather more experience.