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Date: 12/12/2017

Sweden opened the Germany 2017 quarter-finals with a three-goal victory over Denmark, which secured the nation’s first-ever semi-final IHF Women’s World Championship berth in history. The EHF EURO 2014 bronze medallists will meet France in the penultimate match on Friday December 15 in Magdeburg.


France followed Sweden into the semi-final with a three-goal win of their own, versus Montenegro. For France, it is the third semi-final at a major international tournament in 18 months, after they claimed the silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games followed by the bronze at the EHF EURO 2016.

Sweden vs Denmark 26:23 (13:11)


After a slow start that saw them trail until the last 10 minutes of the first half, Sweden took revenge for their loss to Denmark in the eighth-final stage of the 22nd IHF Women’s World Championship two years ago, taking a comfortable victory to become the first team through to the Germany 2017 semi-finals. When the match began in Arena Leipzig on Tuesday evening, it initially seemed that Sweden would have considerable trouble beating Denmark’s defence, as they took five minutes to score their opening goal.


Luckily for Sweden, Sandra Toft did not have quite the day she did against Germany in the eighth-finals, when she saved at a rate of 52%. Sweden’s starting goalkeeper Johanna Bundsen was also not as dangerous as she was in the previous knock-out match, and was replaced by Filippa Idehn after the first quarter of the match when her team had closed the gap to one (6:7). Idehn was instrumental in Sweden claiming the upper hand before half-time, as she saved at 57% to allow her team the attacking opportunities that earned them the advantage.


Sweden did not let go of their lead in the second half, increasing the score line to a decisive seven goals, at 22:15, in the 46th minute. Denmark coach Klavs Bruun Jorgensen responded with seven-on-six tactics, which resulted in his team recording an 8:4 run through the last quarter of the match. Though they decreased the deficit significantly, it was not enough to secure the victory. When Isabelle Gullden pushed the advantage to three in the 59th minute, then Olivia Mellegard added another from left wing in the last 60 seconds to keep the final advantage at three, the Swedish bench began to celebrate.


“It was well balanced and I am thankful for the win,” said Sweden coach Henrik Signell. “The team worked hard for a long time and made huge improvements on the court and in their personalities. They believe in themselves and have a great morale. We played good handball in defence and offence, but for now we are not finished with our way through the tournament.”


“They deserved the victory. The game started positive for us. We played with power and discipline. But then we opened the game for Sweden and gave them the chance to turn the game. They used their chance. We had to many losses in the one-versus-one. I wish Sweden luck for the next games,” said Denmark coach Jorgensen. 

Player of the Match presented by adidas: Hanna BLOMSTRAND (SWE)

France vs Montenegro 25:22 (12:10)

Just like Sweden, France booked their place in the semi-final with a three-goal win in the quarter-final. The 2016 Olympic silver medallists and EHF EURO 2016 bronze medallists now have the chance to win a third medal within 18 months, as they contest what will be their fifth World Championship semi-final.


“It was a tough game. We had very good preparation with video,” said France coach Olivier Krumbholz. “Our defence was very good and our goalkeeper was at the top level. When we had problems in defence Amandine [Leynaud] was always there.”

It was a tough fight through the opening half in particular, with Montenegro taking an early lead and leaving France to equalise in the 11th minute (4:4). Though France held a consistent advantage of one to four goals after that point, Montenegro always threatened to equalise with their solid defence and shots from their experienced players like right back Katarina Bulatovic, centre Milena Raicevic and right wing Jovanka Radicevic.


Though France held a three-goal lead at the break, the matter was far from decided – but in the second half, the Olympic silver medallists were firmly in command. Goalkeeper Amandine Leynaud made several important saves on her way to the Player of the Match award, and as she stopped a penalty with 15 minutes left and her team in front 21:16, Montenegro were under significant pressure. As Denmark had before them, Montenegro fought back to a smaller deficit, but could not equalise or take the lead.


“Of course I’m sad to lose this game,” said Montenegro’s Jelena Despotovic. “It was a new experience for my young team.”


Player of the Match presented by adidas: Amandine LEYNAUD (FRA)