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Date: 7/11/2014

Youth World Champions vs. Junior European champion in a thrilling encounter - the first semi-final Russia vs. Denmark was the so far best match at the Women’s Junior World Championship in Croatia. After losing the 2012 Youth World Championship final against the same competitor and after winning the 2013 Junior European championship semi-final (after two extra-times), Russia were victorious again in Koprivnica on Friday (11 july).

Led by outstanding Daria Dmitireva they remain the only unbeaten team of this competition after their 31:29 win. On Sunday (13 July) they will face the winner of the second semi Korea vs. Germany in the match for gold. The unlucky Danes, who took their first defeat in Croatia and gave the Russians a great fight, will play the bronze final.

Denmark - Russia 29:31 (13:17)

When the final whistle was blown, the Russian player jumped for joy, bouncing around, knowing that they had just finished a really tough piece of work against the Danes.

Already the first half was worth a final. Both highly skilled sides were tactically perfectly adapted to their competitors. The Danish defence focused on Russian top star Anna Vyakhireva, while the Russians build a tall defence wall. But it was not Vyakhireva who imprinted the Russian match play in the first half, but brilliant centre back Daria Dmitrieva, scoring six of her in total nine goals before the break.

Both sides played with full speed, but in contrast to the Russians, Denmark missed more chances after they had been in lead 5:3. In this period Russia - mainly Dmitrieva - scored a 5:0 series, forcing Danish coach Heine Eriksen to take his first time-out. While goalkeeper Louise Egestorp imporved, her attacking team mates still had problems against the Russian defence. But scoring a triple strike the Scandinavians were intermediately back at 10:10, before the European champions re-started their engines, pushing again more pressure on the 2012 Youth World Champions to be ahead by four goals at the break.

In the beginning of the second half, the Danes were much more determinate, focused and full of passion. They changed the defence to a much more active and offensive tactic, trying to keep the Russians away from the goal. And it worked: After only nine minutes the score was nearly leveled at 19:20, while Russia lacked ideas and precision in attack. And when Mette Tranborg stroke her fourth goal for 20:20, all started at zero.

But as Vyakhireva’s  penny had dropped in minute 48, netting in her first field goal for 25:22, the crunch time had started - then her engine was in full swing, as she also scored for the 26:22, the first Russian four goal lead after the break, also because goalkeeper Kira Trusova had clearly improved. Eriksen took his last time-out in minute 53, when his team was down by 22:27 after four consecutive Russian goals. But Russia needed to fight until the very last minute, when finally Kristina Kozhovar decided the semi, scoring the 31:27.

Best Danish scorer was Line Haugsted by seven strikes.