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Date: 12/7/2017

The final shot on Thursday night was highly crucial for Group A: Carmen Martin’s penalty levelled the score at 25:25 in the match Spain versus France. Romania could celebrate too: thanks to this result, the 2015 World Championship bronze medallists are already confirmed winner of the group in Trier. Romania had defeated Angola and thus remain unbeaten. Before, Slovenia had qualified for the eighth-finals by beating Paraguay.

Prior to the last round, when Romania will face France and Spain lock horns with Slovenia, Romania have 8:0 points on their account, Slovenia 6:2, France and Spain 5:3. Angola and Paraguay are both on zero before their direct encounter on Friday.

IHF President Dr Hassan Moustafa was impressed by the matches and the atmosphere in Trier: “To see so many international fan groups and a perfect organisation makes me feel extremely happy. Germany know how to organise events like this.”

Paraguay vs Slovenia 22:28 (9:18)

“This was maybe the best half ever played by a Paraguyan women’s team.” Coach Ruben Vera was happy, satisfied and impressed that his side ‘won’ the second half against Slovenia 13:10. Paraguay – boosted by a loud and frenetic support from hundreds of school kids in the stands – stood strong though they never were a danger to the Slovenians. “We gave playing time for our young players, who got their first ever World Championship experience,” said Slovenia coach Uros Bregar.

His side had easily extended the gap from 5:4 to 17:8, before Alja Koren impressed the fans with the final goal of the first half, a hammering direct free-throw. “I am proud to score a goal like this, but I am even more proud that we made it to the next round,” said Koren.

After the 10:21, Paraguay scored five unanswered goals and were on a nearly equal level. Finally even the best player award was handed over to the South Americans: “I never have received a trophy like this in my whole career,” said Sabrina Fiore, top scorer of the match by eight goals, adding: “But handball is a collective sport, so this award is for the team.”

Romania vs Angola 27:24 (14:14)

Romania took revenge for the defeat against Angola at the Rio Olympic Games and remain unbeaten after four rounds. But the victory against the bravely fighting African champions was extremely hard-earned. Thanks to the great saves of goalkeeper Cristina Blanco, Angola used the first 20 minutes to their advantage, leading by four at 12:8. “Angola had nothing to lose after their elimination, and they showed their skills and put enormous pressure on us. We needed to fight truly hard to win this match,” said Spanish-born Romania coach Ambros Martin.

Though his side managed to equalise at 13:13 after four straight goals, Angola stood strong until the very end. “This was by far our best match here in Germany,” said Morten Soubak, Danish-born coach of Angola. His team even managed to take another two-goal lead at 21:19. “But then came a player you might know,” Soubak was joking: “Cristina Neagu”.

The current IHF World Handball Player of the Year scored the last four goals for Romania to turn the match around from 23:23 to the final score of 27:24. Before, Romania’s goalkeeper Yuliya Dumanska had saved many important shots. “We are happy with this good result after a performance, which was not so good,” said Romanian left back Eliza Buceschi, adding: “We did not expect to have four victories after four rounds and that we would have secured the first position in this tough group already before the final match against France.”

Spain vs France 25:25 (10:11)

3,316 fans saw the so far most thrilling match at the sold-out Arena Trier: the penalty goal of Carmen Martin seconds before the final buzzer sounded made the Spaniards jump for joy, while France left the court quite disappointed. “We are very happy, as we did not expect this result,” said Spain coach Carlos Viver.

His side had a perfect start in a true rollercoaster ride being ahead 8:4 after 19 minutes. But backed by a clear improvement in defence, France struck back. The 2016 Olympic silver medallists scored a 7:1 series within ten minutes to take the lead 11:9.

With Grace Zaadi on fire right after the break, France headed to a 17:13 lead and seemed to be on the winners’ path. But still nothing was decided, as Spain got closer goal by goal, levelling the score again at 22:22 four minutes before the end. Three more times, France took the lead, three more times, Spain levelled.

“This was a really good game, but of course we are a bit disappointed as we were better in attack,” said France coach Olivier Krumbholz, and French player Kalidiatou Niakate added: “The match was truly tough. First, we are happy to be in the eighth-finals, second we are unhappy that we did not win.”