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Date: 7/13/2018

The opening 2018 IHF Women’s Junior (U20) World Championship semi-final saw a dominant win for Norway, who fell behind Russia initially but claimed the upper hand late in the first half and powered to a decisive victory. It is the first time Russia will miss the final of the Women’s Junior World Championship since 2012, after taking the silver medal in both 2014 and 2016.


Hungary followed Norway with a five-goal win over Republic of Korea, setting up a rematch of their Group A encounter – won by the hosts – with the Scandinavian side to decide the title.  

Semi-final: Russia vs Norway 23:30 (12:14)


Nothing went right for Russia in the opening Hungary 2018 semi-final, while Norway’s game fell perfectly into place. Russia’s 2016 Youth World Championship-winning initially took the lead but once Norway snatched it from them, the Scandinavian side’s strength only increased as the minutes ticked by.


Norway’s 6-0 defence stood solid against Russia’s desperate attack, which was far below its usual level of organisation and quality. Russia looked like they hardly knew what to do at the Scandinavian side’s end of the court, losing the ball all too often on shots that should not have been taken and trying to reach the line player with easily intercepted passes. After Russia led through the opening Norway equalised at 6:6 as the first quarter came to a close, and by the 20th minute, Norway had taken the advantage.


Norway took a two-goal lead into the break, at which point it was still anyone’s game, but Russia simply had no answer in the second 30 minutes. In defence, Russia changed from 6-0 to 3-3 to 5-1, but no matter what they tried, they could not stop Norway from creating a considerable difference in their favour. Norway’s keeper Sofie Ege Gronlund was in excellent form behind the defence, and when she made a great save on a wing shot in the 44th minute to keep her side in front 21:14, the outcome appeared already decided.


Russia kept trying to find their game, right through to the final buzzer, but there was nothing to be done – the game simply belonged to Norway.

Semi-final: Hungary vs Republic of Korea 30:25 (14:11)


It seems nothing can stop Hungary at their home World Championship. Though they faced a strong challenge from Republic of Korea in the semi-final, Hungary powered to a three-goal lead at half-time and had little trouble holding on to take the victory at the buzzer. With an incredible atmosphere in Hall Fonix behind them, the Hungary bench could hardly contain their celebration until the buzzer, as their players struggled to remain on the bench with the prospect of the sure win approaching.


Korea kept the game level for a long time, and it was a quality contest throughout with the record Asian champions always threatening to close the gap. One of Hungary’s strengths in the tournament has been their team of goalkeepers, with Petra Hlogyik, Sara Suba and Boglarka Bino proving themselves essentially interchangeable and each with the ability to have an impact on the game.


The hosts started the semi-final with Hlogyik in goal, and she made many impressive saves before being replaced by Bino in the 43rd minute. Just as she did in the quarter-final, Bino made several important saves, including a crucial penalty in the 50th minute that kept the home team in front 25:21, and another in the 54th with Hungary 28:22 in the lead. The outcome of the game was clear minutes before the last whistle, when Hungary celebrated qualification for what is their fourth Junior World Championship final.