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Date: 12/16/2011
 

For the fourth time in history after 1999, 2003 and 2009 France reached the final of a Women’s World Championship. They beat Denmark 28:23 in the first semi in Sao Paulo and will now wait to know their opponent for the battle of the title. Norway will face Spain in the second semi. France lost playmaker Alison Pineau due to a knee injury – it is not known yet, if she will be able to play in the final. Match winner was ten times goal scorer Alexandra Lacrabere.

 

 

France – Denmark 28:23 (14:12)

They were dancing on the field, celebrating on the floor and clapping their hands: France is the well-deserved first finalist of the XX Women's World Championship.

 

As expected, this clash of European and World top nations was a real tight battle during the first half. Both teams fought hard in defence, including strong goalkeepers Christine Pedersen (Denmark) and Amandine Leynaud (France). Thanks to the back court hammers of Line Jörgensen (five goals before the break) and Trine Troelsen, Denmark had the stronger start into the match and led 7:4 in the second minute: Former World Handball Player Alison Pineau had to be carried from the field with a severe knee injury and did not return anymore.

 

But after a time-out of coach Olivier Krumbholz, France woke up, scored three straight goals and took the lead at 9:8. Then Alexandra Lacrabere had her high flyer: Scoring the last four French goals before the break and the first in the second half, her team extended the gap to 15:12 – the first three goal lead in the entire match, followed by the 16:12.

 

The reasons were clear: The French defence put enormous pressure on the Danish attackers, causing confusion and mistakes in the Northern European team. Aside goalkeeper Cleopatre Darleux stood strong. Like in the quarter-final against Russia the French wall was the key to success in this stage of the match. And due to a double strike of Marie Paule Gnabouyou France even extended the gap to six goals at the score of 20:14 in minute 40.

 

But as in the placement match before, nothing was decided in the middle of the second half: Denmark reduced the margin to 20:18, followed by a time-out of the French coach Krumbholz. His team had lost its rhythm, and like in the first part of halftime one the Danish back court shooters hammered the balls into the French net. Getting more confidence by those goals, the Danes also improved their defence.

 

The match was on eye level again – still with advantages for the French team that kept their lead at two or three goals. But in contrast to the opening period of the second half it was no easy-going anymore. Denmark was close to equalize, but made too many mistakes in the decisive actions. But also France missed an early decision, failing often against Pedersen or causing technical mistakes in the final stage.

With three minutes left on the scoreboard and after another Danish time-out the score was 24:22 for France, as Amelie Goudjo hit the net tor the next three goals margin – and Denmark became too hectic in attack knowing the time was running from their hands. So the French fans started their “Allez les Bleus” celebrating the qualification for the final, finally secured by the tenth goal of Lacrabere to 26:22.

 

 

Statements after the match:

Kim Jensen, assistant coach Denmark: France made a real good match. We knew that it would be hard to resist, as it was a match David versus Goliath. If we would have wanted to win, we would have needed our highest level. But today France was too good for us. They are currently the best team in the world.

Oliver Krumbholz, coach France: Like in every match the defence was the key to win. But we are happy and sad at the same time, as our key player Alison Pineau is out for the final and is maybe even out of the Olympics. Her injury will make it really difficult for us in the final, in which we are no favourite, no matter what the opponent will be. But my team – which now have to miss the two top players Pineau and Mariama Signate, showed again a great behavior and passion.  But in the final we have to cope with the injury of Pineau with more rotations.

Pernille Larsen,player Denmark: We are really disappointed and sad, as we were close to the final. But France was too strong, so I wish them good luck in the final.

Amelie Gudjo, player France: We feel such a big happiness after three severe injuries in only one week. It was a victory of the collective and a victory for our fans and whole France.

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