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Date: 3/19/2016
 

The Netherlands opened day two of the Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament I in Metz with a win against Japan that achieved their four-year Olympic dream and secured their place in Rio de Janeiro in August. 

In the second game of the evening France made up for their loss against the Netherlands in their tournament opener with a big win versus Tunisia, which puts them on two points on the table alongside Japan. 

There is now one ticket to the Olympic Games remaining in Metz, to be decided between Japan and France in a crunch match on Sunday evening. 
 
Saturday March 19 in Les Arenes, Metz
Netherlands vs Japan 33:25 (15:16)

Though Japan created somewhat of a reputation as an unpredictable and dangerous side at the 22nd IHF Women’s Handball World Championship, the Denmark 2015 silver medallists were likely not expecting quite the challenge they faced on Saturday evening. 

From the first whistle it was a close match, but after five minutes of play it was Japan that claimed the advantage at 4:3, refusing to relinquish it for several minutes as the Netherlands chased. The Asian team even managed to increase their advantage to two goals at 8:6 before the Netherlands closed the gap with a goal from right wing Angela Malestein (eight goals and top scorer of the match) levelling the score at 9:9 in the 17th. 

From that point it was a one-for-one race to the half-time whistle, and though the Netherlands pulled in front by one on several occasions it was Japan who held the advantage at the break.  

But when the match resumed three goals from Laura van der Heijden (five goals at 100%) equalised the score at 17:17 before the Netherlands swiftly converted the earlier deficit into a two-goal lead at 20:18 in the 41st.  

Henk Groener has a talent for saying the right thing to his players at half-time, and it was clear his words had worked their magic again as the Netherlands cruised further in front to 23:19 within a three-minute period. 

As the clock ticked on Japan seemed to run out of fight while the Netherlands steamrolled home to a decisive eight-goal win, putting them on four points on the table and earning the 'One Team' one of the two Rio 2016 places up for grabs in Metz. 

Player of the Match presented by adidas: Yvette Broch (NED) Line Player

France vs Tunisia 33:15 (20:6)

As expected the second match of the evening was rather one-sided, ending with a victory for the home team who added their first two points toward Olympic qualification with the win. 

France took the lead from the outset, racing ahead to create a clear 13:5 advantage by the 20-minute mark. By half-time the European team were in front by 14 goals, and it was clear Tunisia would need a miracle to decrease such a deficit. 

Three minutes in to the second period Nina Kamto Njitam was sent off for two minutes when France retained a 12-goal advantage at 20:8, but it did little damage and the hosts were still in front by a decisive 22:10 at the 40th minute. 

Tunisia were impressive as they fought through to the final whistle, but France’s victory was never really in question. The home team steadily increased their lead as the clock wound down to sit comfortably in front at 25:11 with 15 minutes remaining, ultimately recording an 18-goal victory at the buzzer. 

Player of the Match presented by adidas: Laura Glauser (FRA) Goalkeeper

Photos: Stephane Pillaud

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