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Date: 7/15/2016
 

Denmark are the champions of the 2016 IHF Women’s Junior (U20) World Championship, after becoming the first team to defeat the Russian Federation at the event – in the most crucial match. The victory is the second time in less than 12 months that the Scandinavian side have claimed a title in a final against Russia, after they defeated the World Championship hosts at the Women’s 19 EHF EURO 2015 last August. 

The 2016 Junior World Championship was won after a 70-minute contest, with a level score at the end of regular playing time before Denmark kept Russia completely out of the goal in the 10 minutes of extra time. 

The game was played after a moment of silence to honour the victims of the Nice attack on Bastille Day 2016, as well as in memory of former EHF President Tor Lian. 

Sport Palace Dynamo Krylatskoe, Thursday 14 July
Final: Russian Federation vs Denmark 28:32 (28:28)(12:15)

The tone of the match was set in the opening minutes when Denmark’s Julie Pontoppidan scored her first goal inside the first minute, before Russia 2016 All-star goalkeeper Althea Rebecca Reinhardt saved a penalty in the third. While Denmark looked strong immediately, Russia took some time to settle in to the match. 

Just after the five-minute mark Reinhardt made a save to keep the score at 3:1 to Denmark, before Russia’s Anastasiia Seradskaia received a two-minute suspension. At 10 minutes the score still stood in favour of Denmark at 5:3, and the edge remained with the Scandinavian side who moved ahead to a three-goal advantage then a four-goal lead with a penalty scored by Mai Kragballe Nielsen.

After that the score stood at 8:4 in favour of Denmark, and Russia coach Anatolii Skorobogatov called the first time-out of the match. Following the time-out Russia left back Yulia Golikova began to find her shot, adding her first goal to decrease the deficit to 5:8 midway through the half. Though Russia had picked up their game Denmark’s stronger start had cost the hosts dearly, and Kragballe Nielsen scored a risky penalty shot to increase their advantage to five at 13:8 in the 22nd. 

Denmark used their first time-out when Russia closed the gap to 9:13 in the 23rd, and neither team scored until Yarslava Frolova added a penalty goal that decreased the score line to three at 10:13. Both teams had players out on suspension at that point – with Malashenko off for Russia and Sara Trier Hald out for Denmark. 

As half-time drew near Russia played on equal footing with Denmark to keep the difference at three to four goals, but they could not come any closer than that and the Scandinavian team retained a comfortable advantage at the break. 

In the second period Russia returned stronger, closing the gap to 14:16 five minutes in. Both sides were playing outstanding defence, but the hosts began to figure out how to beat Denmark’s 6-0 and came within one with Skorobogatchenko’s sixth goal of the match in the 37th (15:16). They equalised in the next attack courtesy of right wing Daria Belikova, and Denmark coach Flemming Dam Larsen called a time-out. 

The Scandinavian side did not let the score stay level for long, again moving in front to a two-goal advantage before Maria Schmidt Lykkegaard increased their lead to three at 21:18 with just over 15 minutes left. At the 50-minute mark the difference remained, but Russia kept pushing with the support of the crowd in Sport Palace Dynamo Krylatskoe behind them. 

With five minutes on the clock Russia had decreased the deficit to two at 24:26, before Valentina Vernigorova received a two-minute suspension. Denmark lost the ball in that same attack however, and Russia could continue to hope as Malashenko scored her third goal to take the hosts within one at 25:26. 

The cry of ‘Russia’ thundered around the stadium as Denmark had two players out on suspensions against the home team’s five. The Scandinavian side still found a way to score before Russia right wing Victoria Smolentseva again decreased the deficit to one at 26:27. Denmark coach Larsen used his final time-out, and when they returned Russia played one-on-one defence that earned them the ball. 

Karina Sabirova broke through on the next attack and the score was level at 27:27 as the last 30 seconds began. Denmark managed a goal, but Russia also did with a penalty called in the last three seconds, which was converted by Malashenko to send the match into extra time with a score of 28:28 after the regular 60 minutes. 

In extra time Denmark moved one in front before Russia goalkeeper Anastasia Titovskaya made a penalty save that kept the distance at 28:29, while her counterpart at the other end of the court was proving to be the home side’s biggest problem. Reinhardt was exceptional with her saves, while Denmark’s defence in front of her also caused trouble with blocks that quieted Russia’s usual sharpshooters including Skorobogatchenko and Golikova. 

After Denmark created a two-goal advantage in the first five minutes of extra time, Pauline Boegelund took the team three in front on a breakthrough against Russia’s offensive defence (31:28). Skorobogatchenko’s next shot was blocked by the Danish wall, and with 90 seconds left Denmark remained in front by three – and were on their way to winning the title. 

When Russia left wing Marianna Egorova hit the post on her next shot it was clear Russia could not decrease the deficit, and Denmark’s Mie Enggrob Hojlund added another to put the final difference at four. 

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