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Date: 12/17/2012
 

What a match, what a drama! Montenegro is the fourth nation to become Women’s EHF EURO champion after Norway (5 gold), Denmark (3) and Hungary (1). But they needed 80 minutes of pure fight to secure a 34:31 (12:11, 24:24, 28:28) win and thus to end the Norwegian string of victories including four consecutive titles from 2004 to 2010.
For the second time in history extra time was needed to decide a Women’s EHF EURO final (In 2000 in Romania Hungary had claimed a 32:30 win against Ukraine to secure gold.). 12 years later even one extra-time period was not enough, as after 60 minutes the score was 24:24 and after 70 minutes it was 28:28 after Norway had overturned a three-goal deficit within just four minutes. Finally with the score at 30:31 four goals in a row during the second extra-time period brought the decision in an historic match.
Match winners were goalkeeper Sonja Barjaktaroviv (17 saves) and youngster Milena Knezevic who scored ten goals. Norway’s Ida Alstad scored eleven times but could not avoid Norway’s first defeat in a European Championship final since 2004. Since then Norway had become EHF EURO champions four times in a row. This series came to an end on Sunday, 16 December  – in the remake of the London Olympic final Montenegro has lost 23:26.
After becoming Olympic silver medallist and with nearly all players from Champions League winner Buducnost Podgorica, the Montenegrins crowned themselves Europe’s new handball queens.
Host Serbia had been praised for their brilliant organisation and their hospitality, but finally shed tears. The Serbian team had made from zero to hero in the preliminary round and the main round to cause a sensation when advancing to the semis. Then they were unlucky, as they conceded two close defeats. In the bronze final they showed their fighting spirit, but Hungary was awarded with the bronze medal in the end following their exciting 41:38 (21:19, 33:33) win after extra time. The Hungarians were cold as ice in the second half of extra time. After being behind 36:37, they scored five goals in a row  to celebrate their third EURO bronze medal after 1998 and 2004.
On Saturday, 15 December, the two semi-finals could hardly be more different: While Norway outclassed Hungary 30:19, the Serbia vs. Montenegro match was a neck-to-neck fight over 60 minutes to see a close 27:26 score in favour of the Olympic silver medallist.
Hungary was only able until minute 18 to stand Norway’s power and speed. Norway then managed to score 9:1 goals to decide the match at the break already. Later on Hungary simply surrendered. On minute 50, with the score at 26:16, Norway had the double of goals recorded, as the Hungarians constantly failed against brilliant Norwegian goalkeeper Katrine Lunde (playing for Hungarian club Györ).
“With such defence, goalkeeping and counter-attacks, Norway proves unbeatable and unstoppable,” Karl-Erik Böhn, Hungary’s Norwegian-born coach, praised his fellow countrymen.
In contrast, the second semi-final was a real thriller. Attended by 13,000 spectators (among them IHF President Dr Hassan Moustafa), that is a new women’s handball match attendance world record, both Balkan teams fought hard in a 100% defensive battle. Montenegro had the better start to run ahead to 8:4; then the Serbs led by top scorer Biljana Filipovic (seven goals in total) turned it upside down to take the lead with the score at 14:11. But the Montenegrins – supported by thousands of fans in Belgrade – then performed brilliantly in defence to turn the match upside down again after the break. Yet, they did not manage to shake their opponent off. In the final phase of the match top scorer Milena Knezevic (eight goals) and goalkeeper Marina Vukcevic’s saves decided the match. Vukcevi saved the last shot of Filipovic three seconds before the end to pave the way to victory.
Denmark had beaten Russia 32:30 in the match for 5th/6th place.

 

Before the medal matches the EHF had announced the all-star team of the EHF EURO 2012:
Goalkeeper: Katrine Lunde Haraldsaen (NOR)
Right wing: Jovanka Radicevic (MNE)
Right back: Katarina Bulatovic (MNE)
Centre back: Andrea Lekic (SRB)
Left back: Sanja Damnjanovic (SRB)
Left wing: Polina Kuznetcoca (RUS)
Line player: Heidi Löke (NOR)
Most valuable player: Anja Edin (NOR)
Best defence player: Anja Althaus (GER)
Top scorer:  Katarina Bulatovic (MNE) 56 goals

 

Results:
Semi-finals:
Norway –Hungary 30:19 (16:11)
Serbia – Montenegro 26:27 (14:13)
Placement match 5/6:
Denmark – Russia 32:30 (15:15)
Bronze final:
Hungary – Serbia 41:38 (33:33, 21:19) after extra time
Final:
Norway – Montenegro 31:34 (11:12, 24:24, 28:28)

 

Final ranking:
1. Montenegro
2. Norway
3. Hungary
4. Serbia
5. Denmark
6. Russia
7.  Germany
8.  Sweden
9. France
10. Romania
11. Spain
12. Czech Republic
13. Croatia
14. Ukraine
15. Iceland
16. FYR Macedonia

 

On Sunday 16 December the draw for the 2013 World Championship play-offs was held in Belgrade. The winners will qualify for the 2013 Women’s WCh in Serbia: 
Turkey vs. Denmark
Iceland vs. Czech Republic
FYR Macedonia vs. Spain
Netherlands vs. Russia
Slovakia vs. Romania
Germany vs. Ukraine
Sweden vs. Poland
France vs. Croatia
The matches will be played in June 2013.

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