Rekindled rivalries headline Tokyo 2020 quarter-finals

04 Aug. 2021

Rekindled rivalries headline Tokyo 2020 quarter-finals

Running updates of the Tokyo 2020 women's quarter-finals – follow the action of the Olympic handball tournament live and stay always up-to-date. Norway and ROC will play each other in the semi-finals after their respective quarter-final wins today. Sweden advance as well where they will face France.

Only eight teams are left in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 women's handball competition as we enter the knock-out phase of the tournament. Who will claim the four tickets to the semi-finals and continue their Olympic journey?

Today's matches:

  • 09:30 JST: Montenegro vs ROC (26:32)
  • 13:15 JST: Norway vs Hungary (26:22)
  • 17:00 JST: Sweden vs Republic of Korea (39:30)
  • 20:45 JST: France vs Netherlands (32:22)

23:45 JST Summary of the day


  • We know the four semi-finalists who will face off for a medal at Tokyo 2020. Norway will face the ROC, a rematch of their semi-final from five years ago at Rio 2016, while Sweden and France face off in the second game.
  • Norway need only one win to reach a 40-win milestone at the Olympic Games, the first team to achieve this.
  • France tied their record for the most goals scored in a game at the Olympic Games, 32, in their win against the Netherlands, 32:22.
  • In their 39:30 win against the Republic of Korea, Sweden broke the record for the number of goals scored in the competition, beating their previous record by three goals, which was set against the ROC in the group phase.
  • Of the four teams still alive in the competition, only Sweden have never won a medal. Norway (2 gold medals, 2 silver medals and 3 bronze medals) are the best-placed team in the Olympic Games all-time ranking, followed by the ROC (1 gold, 1 silver) and France (1 silver).
  • Jovanka Radicevic is leading the scorer standings with 46 goals, followed by Nora Mork (34 goals), Migeyong Lee (33 goals), Jamina Roberts (31 goals) and Ryu Eun Hee (31 goals). From the top five scorers, only Mork and Roberts are still in the competition.

23:15 JST FINAL WHISTLE France vs Netherlands 32:22

France have rarely been so dominant in an Olympic Games win of this caliber, usually eking out wins with their supreme defensive efficiency. This time, they rewrote history, with a complete game, which simply stopped the Dutch side in their tracks early in the game, forcing the reigning world champions to continuously run for trying to cut the gap. Physically and mentally, it proved impossible and, eventually, France enjoyed one of their clearest ever wins in history at the Olympic Games, 32:22.

France have only scored at least 30 goals in a game in the competition for the seventh time, tying their all-time record for goals scored in a game at the Olympic Games, 32, set in 2008 against Angola and in 2000 against Austria and Brazil. It is a dominating win, which sets France apart from the other sides. It is usually known that the French side is trying to reach peak form in the knock-out phases of the competition and at Tokyo 2020 is by no means different.

For the Netherlands, it is a heartbreaking loss, that sees them out of medal contention for the second tournament in a row. At the Women's EHF EURO 2020, Netherlands finished sixth, their worst placement since their seventh place in 2004. But they failed to challenge for a medal for the second tournament in a row, which can signal the end of an era for Emmanuel Mayonnade’s side, with players retiring and others missing through injury more and more.

We now have completed the semi-finals card at Tokyo 2020, as Norway will face ROC, while France meet Sweden. Five years ago, at Rio 2016, three of the teams were also present in the semi-finals, with the Netherlands dropping out to be replaced by Sweden between the top two sides.


23:00 JST No chance for the Dutch side to avoid defeat

Another timeout for the Netherlands, some 35 minutes away from the last one, when Mayonnade was forced to call it to stop the rut early in the game. It is a last-gasp challenge for the French coach, one that will probably have no influence on the final result of the game. Indeed, France boast a ten-goal lead, 29:19, with ten minutes to go and cannot lose the game. It’s all about saving energy and avoiding injury before Friday’s semi-final against Sweden.

Two years ago, France beat the Netherlands in the group phase, 18:14, in one of the lowest-scoring games ever at the Olympic Games. Just to put in perspective how much the French side has changed over the last five years.

21:50 JST France adapt and control the pace

The quest for the comeback is on, with the Dutch side cutting the gap to only six goals once again with 20 minutes to go in the game, 23:17. France have slowed down, of course, being impossible for Olivier Krumbholz’s side to keep the high pace up for the whole game. But credit to them for adapting to a new handball style, evolving from the slow-paced tempo they usually had in attack. On the other side, the Netherlands are still missing Lois Abbingh and they look shorthanded for this challenge. Basically, from the team that won the IHF Women’s World Championship in 2019, the Dutch do not have Lois Abbingh, the top goal scorer of the tournament, and Estavana Polman, the MVP of the competition.

And they are seriously lacking some attacking nous, as they have missed three chances to cut the gap to five goals. The time is ticking now and every attack counts. But France look in control and they are not likely to surrender the lead any time soon.

21:25 JST HALF-TIME France vs Netherlands 19:11

Emmanuel Mayonnade has changed the direction of the game by substituting goalkeeper Tess Wester with Rinka Duijndam. The goalkeeper saved seven shots for a superb 50% efficiency and this prompted a mini-comeback of sorts from the Dutch side, who cut the gap to only five goals, 16:11. France’s efficiency has dipped severely to only 55% and they look in trouble. There can’t be a comeback, right?

Well, the answer comes fast, in the form of a 3:0 run to end the first half from France. This is another blow for the Dutch side, who spent plenty of energy to try and come back, just to see themselves down by eight goals after the first half. It will take a monumental effort to try and tie the game and a collapse of proportions from France to allow that to happen. Right now, it looks like Sweden will play France in the second semi-final.

21:10 JST Chapeau, Amandine Leynaud!

How France are able to pull this off just two days removed after securing the win against Brazil that helped them proceed to the quarter-finals at Tokyo 2020 is just amazing. This is one of the best team performances we have witnessed in this tournament, against a team that has only dropped a single game, 27:29, against Norway in the group phase. But it all starts with the defence, where goalkeeper Amandine Leynaud has worked wonders, saving 10 of the 16 shots she faced in the first 19 minutes.

In attack, France were lifted by Laura Flippes, who has been converted from right wing to right back, with Flippes being the top goal scorer for France, with four goals in the first 20 minutes. Five of France’s 14 goals have been scored via fast breaks and it probably will be getting better in this department, as the Dutch side will get more and more desperate trying to come back. Right now, France are cruising, 15:7, but have also boasted a ten-goal lead.

20:55 JST France pummel the Netherlands with superb defence and fast breaks

France needed a win in the last game of the group phase to proceed to the quarter-finals at Tokyo 2020, after conceding two losses in the first four matches. But right now, they look unhinged, they are impossible to stop. It all starts in the defence, like it always does for Olivier Krumbholz’s team. France have stolen four balls there and converted them into fast breaks and they just made it look easy to take a 10:3 lead in the first ten minutes. For a team with such a great defensive system, the advantage is crucial, knowing exactly what buttons to press to apply pressure.

But the most important issue for the Netherlands is that they lost left back Lois Abbingh to injury. The top scorer of the IHF Women’s World Championship landed awkwardly after a shot and was helped off the court by two teammates. Unfortunately, it looks like the game is already over for the Netherlands, as France have converted 75% of their shots already. And Emmanuel Mayonnade has called his second timeout now, after only ten minutes. It looks unprecedented and this really is the Netherlands being pitted into a corner!

20:30 JST Last quarter-final set to start

Two French coaches, a single place in the Tokyo 2020 semi-finals.

There is no room for error for the Netherlands and France, as the two sides with French coaches at the Olympic Games are clashing in 15 minutes, at 20:45 JST (13:45 CEST). The Dutch team’s coach, Emmanuel Mayonnade, has already won the IHF Women’s World Championship, while Olivier Krumbholz is a world champion, European champion and has also won the silver medal at Rio 2016.

France have seven wins against the Dutch side, including three in the last four, one of which was a 24:23 win in the semi-finals at Rio 2016. From that match, the Dutch side have brought back eight players to Tokyo 2020, while France have seven players in their extended roster.

The winner of this clash will face Sweden in the semi-finals.

18:25 JST FINAL WHISTLE Sweden vs Republic of Korea 39:30

This has been a walk in the park for Sweden, who rode their strong start, 8:2, never let the Republic of Korea come back and seal a superb win, a win for the ages, which helped them seal their first-ever semi-final berth at the Olympic Games in four editions they took part in. It was a superb effort from the Swedish side, who had all their 12 outfield players score at least one goal, while their goalkeepers recorded 13 saves for a 42% saving efficiency, bringing home a superb 39:30 win.

On the other hand, Korea finish with only one win in six games, one of their worst-ever tournaments in history and will avoid the eighth place only if the difference will be higher between the winner and loser in the last quarter-final between France and the Netherlands. The Asian side only won against another Asian counterpart, Japan, drew against Angola and lost all four games against European opponents, by an average of 7.5 goals.

It was also the game with the largest number of goals scored by Sweden at the Olympic Games, Sweden’s second-largest win at the Olympic Games, while also the fifth-largest win in the quarter-finals in the competition, with the record still held by Norway, who took a 33:20 win against Sweden at Rio 2016 five years ago.


18:03 JST No answer from Korea, as Sweden eye another record

After seven minutes and 35 seconds in the second half, the Republic of Korea scored their first goal. By that time, Sweden had already opened an 11-goal gap, 24:13, showing no signs of stopping. Right now, their only mission is to avoid an injury and rest their players for the upcoming semi-final game.

Jamina Roberts scored six times, Carin Strömberg added five and Linn Blohm four for one of the most lopsided Swedish wins in history at the Olympic Games. Remember, they blew their records for number of goals scored and largest win earlier in the tournament, against the ROC, 36:24. Could they set another one?

17:35 JST HALF-TIME Sweden vs Republic of Korea 21:13

What a moment for Sweden to break their record for number of goals scored in the first half in a match at the Olympic Games. This has been pretty straightforward for the Scandinavian side, with the game plan executed to a T. Coach Tomas Axner identified the weaknesses in the Korean defence and Sweden attacked directly, with their trademark fast breaks and with their back players constantly unsettling the Asian defence.

On the other side, Korea did not find the space in attack, turned the ball over too many times and simply could not keep up with the pace of the Swedish side. The score line is 21:13 and it really looks difficult for Korea to progress from this game. Sweden also beat their previous record of 18 goals scored in the first half against Russia at Rio 2016 and could be looking to beat the one for most goals scored in a game at the Olympic Games, set a few days ago against the ROC team, 36.

17:25 JST Sweden’s flawless game

Ryu Eun Hee has seen a drop in her form in the last games and Korea’s results were also affected by this. But the main take is that the Asian side simply cannot stop European sides, who are relying on their backs to create shots. They are overpowered by the likes of Strömberg and Jamina Roberts and there is no surprise to see the two backs, plus Elin Hansson, combined for 11 of Sweden’s 16 goals until the 21st minute.

With so many mistakes in the Korean attack, Sweden have also converted all of their fast breaks, three in total, jumping to what looks to be an unassailable lead after 20 minutes (17:9). What’s even more damning for Korea is that their goalkeepers have not saved a shot up until this point, with Sweden posting a superb 85% shooting accuracy.

17:12 JST Fiery start for Sweden

Sweden jump to a strong start on the back of their superb defensive performance, which limited the Republic of Korea to only two goals scored in the first six minutes and 30 seconds. The score line would have been even tougher for Korea than the 8:3 posted after 10 minutes, but Sweden missed the connection on two fast breaks, which would have left their wings one-on-one with Hui Ju, the Korean goalkeeper.

Indeed, Korea just do not look up to the task in this game, with Sweden overwhelming them both in attack and in defence and have no backup plan whatsoever up until this point. They will surely look to their top scorers, backs Migeyong Lee and Ryu Eun Hee, who missed their first three attempted shots. On the other side of the ball, Sweden have been superb in the first 10 minutes, scoring at will, with five players scoring a goal already, led by captain Carin Strömberg, piling on the pressure on the Korean side.

With the winner of this tie facing either France or the Netherlands in the semi-finals, Sweden might look to drive up the score now and try to rest some of their players in the second half. 

16:50 JST Norway eye milestone after win against Hungary

With their win against Hungary, Norway moved closer to becoming the first-ever team to win 40 games at the Olympic Games women's handball tournament. They are now on 39 and could seal their 40th win against ROC on Friday, in the semi-final. Prior to the tournament, Norway entered the competition in second place, two wins behind the Republic of Korea, but the Asian side only won one game in the competition, therefore placing second now, with 36 wins.

Norway’s percentage of wins is also astonishing, 76.4%, being followed only be the ROC team, albeit with a lower sample of games. In fact, the ROC won 21 of their 28 games, for a winning percentage of 75%. The two best teams by winning percentage at the Olympic Games will face off in the first semi-final on Friday.

But now, we’ll focus on the quarter-final between Sweden and the Republic of Korea, due to start at 17:00 JST.

16:45 JST High expectations for Sweden

With a win, Sweden would seal their best-ever place at the Olympic Games, in only their fourth participation in the competition. They finished seventh at Rio 2016, having never progressed from the quarter-finals. Moreover, at the previous three editions of the Olympic Games, Sweden have won only four games and could tie their tally with a win today. All in all, a crucial game for a team that has only won two medals in international competitions – a silver medal at the EHF EURO 2010 and bronze at the EHF EURO 2014.

For many editions of the competition, the Republic of Korea held the record for the most wins, albeit conceding it to Norway in the last round of the group phase. Still, they are the team with the largest numbest of medals, but found a dip in form in their last participations. Since winning bronze at Beijing 2008, they finished fourth at London 2012 and 10th at Rio 2016. They might be on the rise here, but Korea are not the Olympic powerhouse from the past. Therefore, Sweden, who only conceded one loss in the group phase, are the favourites here.

In the meantime, the Korean team received messages of support from past medallists... 


15:10 JST Quotes after ROC's win

Anna Vyakhireva, ROC right back

On what has changed since their first two matches (a draw with Brazil and heavy defeat by Sweden): “The energy, the spirit, the desire. I can see that in everyone’s eyes now. This is the most important thing, when you fight for every centimetre of the court.”

On her motivation to get to another Olympic final:  “I want this like hell. I am going to eat the floor in the next match. I really want to go through.”


15:00 JST Lunde made the difference

Norway have plenty of experience and each and every one of the 14 players that lined up today on the court has won at least one major title. That experience was key, because in many of those tournaments, the Scandinavian side faced adversity or difficult moments. They knew how to navigate those moments perfectly, with calm and composure, even when the rhythm of their attack was clearly off.

Kari Dale was their best scorer with seven goals and could well be the best line player in this tournament, but the most important player was goalkeeper Katrine Lunde. Offering bags of experience and the leadership many teams crave, her taking the court in the 42nd minute was the turning point of the game. Five saves might not mean much, but she was so dominant that Hungary’s players were reluctant to shoot and even missed the goal from a penalty. It helps to have depth and experience and Lunde surely made the difference in this game. 

14:38 JST FINAL WHISTLE Norway vs Hungary 26:22

It was another 5:0 run for Norway that served as the backbone of their gritty win against Hungary in the quarter-finals at Tokyo 2020. Norway’s fast-paced game was lacking in this match, but, eventually, the Norwegian side found the weaknesses in Hungary’s defence to seal the sixth consecutive win at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and progress to the semi-finals. It was a 26:22 win that really served as a warning for Norway, who won thanks to their depth and savvy coaching by Thorir Hergeirsson, who sent Katrine Lunde on the court at the right time to help Norway win. In fact, Lunde produced five saves and a 63% saving efficiency in the last 11 minutes of the game, when Hungary only scored once.

It’s game over for Hungary now and Norway are through for a record-breaking eighth Olympic Games semi-final. In fact, they have progressed to the best four teams in the competition every time they competed at the Olympic Games. That is an amazing feature and they also did that for the third time without dropping a game, after Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008. For some reason, it seems that they are playing their best handball at the Olympic Games away from Europe.

Anyway, for many, it was a foregone conclusion that Norway would be through to the semi-finals, yet it was not that easy. At least in the first half, Hungary really stayed close and even took a three-goal lead. But their lack of solutions in the back line, where experienced players like Zsuzsanna Tomori and Szandra Szollosi-Zacsik carried the load, really was their undoing, as well as the unexpected misses from usually reliable wings Greta Marton and Viktoria Lukacs. Yet they found sufficient resources to stay alive until the last eight minutes of the game. They might have had a 10-minute and a nine-minute stint without scoring a goal, but they should be proud about how they played in this game.

Norway will need to rest and put up a much improved performance in the semi-final against the ROC if they want to seal their record third gold medal in history. Whether that is doable or not, we will see on Friday.



14:26 JST Hungary are ready to serve the biggest surprise at Tokyo 2020

Thorir Hergeirsson was forced to take a time-out after Hungary got in front by two, 18:16. This is amazing to watch and Norway really look dumbfounded. Could their winning streak at major tournaments, which is now up to 13 games – at EHF EURO 2020 and Tokyo 2020 – be over? Not even Hungary would have thought to limit Norway’s attack to only 16 goals up until the 42nd minute. But Hergeirsson uses another trump card, substituting Silje Solberg with Katrine Lunde in goal. The result? Hungary miss a penalty and Norway tie the game, 19:19, through Nora Mork’s second goal of the game.

It’s Lunde’s game now, as she saved the first two shots she faced on goal, enabling Norway to claw their way back into the game. Norway are on par with their efficiency, 65%, with their tournament average, but they clearly have not been at their best here. With 10 minutes to go, Hungary take back the lead, 21:20, and Norway are constantly missing attacks, by turning the ball over at an immense rate.

14:15 JST What’s up with Norway?

Well, this is going the long way for Norway. The Hungarian side are playing very good defence and those balls won there have been converted into goals, with Reka Bordas tying the game at 14:14 after 36 minutes. But that’s not it! Hungary got the chance to move into the lead but they missed it with a bad pass. Camilla Herrem, the ever-reliable Norwegian wing, scored a lob and brought Norway back into the lead, 15:14.

It’s nip and tuck now, with 20 minutes to go, Hungary tied the game once again and are taking advantage of Norway’s turnovers. Norway are getting pummeled on fast breaks and are now down a goal, 15:16. This is the hardest moment of the Olympic Games for the Norwegian side and their weakest game up until this point in the competition. Is there room for surprise?

13:50 JST HALF-TIME Norway vs Hungary 12:10

It has not been a vintage Norwegian half, but their sheer talent and the team strength helped them navigate through this quite easily. It might have been a challenge for another team to see their opponents start so well and be so motivated, but for the Norwegian side it was just another day at the office. They have not overused Nora Mork, they really sought playing with the line player, but all in all, they focused once again on fast breaks, from which they scored four goals in the first part.

Is it a plan to use all players and not put serious strain on them, as this is their sixth game in 12 days and a semi-final against a strong ROC team awaits? It could be, because Norway are masters of keeping every player at their best ahead of the business end of the tournament. Is it a risky plan that could backfire easily? Sure enough. But it’s all about what Hungary can do in this situation. They have not been overly confident in attack, mistakes happened here and there.

But the main questions are if Norway can dial it up a notch and if Hungary can really keep up physically with the Norwegian side in the second half. Right now, Norway are leading at the break, 12:10, after Lukacs missed a chance to tie the score in a one-on-one with her future Gyor teammate, Solberg, and Marit Jacobsen converted a shot in the last second. But Norway have also turned the ball over more times, nine, than Hungary, eight. Be more careful there and everything should work out fine for the reigning European champions.

13:39 JST Norwegian 7:0 run turns the game on its head

One turnover. One fast break miss from right wing Viktoria Lukacs. One steal from Camilla Herrem. One save from Silje Solberg. That is all what it took Norway to bounce back, open a 7:0 run and take the lead for the first time, 10:6. Hungary’s coach, Gabor Elek, was forced to take a time-out to instill new life in his team, who is looking pedestrian right now and crumbling under Norway’s sheer force.

Did the time-out help? Not really. Hungary did not score for 10 minutes and 17 seconds and Norway are running away with it now. This is exactly what Hungary needed to prevent, such stints can easily be the backbone for a Norwegian win, as they have been so many times.

Their efficiency has not been the highest, 63% up until the 20th minute, but they are still leading, 10:7. It’s not game over, but Hungary will have their work cut out now, needing to improve and keep up the pace. And, in women’s handball, keeping up the pace with Norway is one of the hardest things to do.

13:26 JST Slow start for Norway, can Hungary take advantage?

This is far from Norway’s best start, turning the ball over three times in the first four minutes to help Hungary open a 3:1 gap. There can’t be nerves, or can there be? The Scandinavian side are so experienced, with the average caps in Thorir Hergeirsson’s side being 129.6. Or is it Hungary knowing their opponents well, such as Veronica Kristiansen, Stine Bredal Oftedal, Silje Solberg and Kari Dale, who are playing in Hungary, at Gyor? Whichever it is, Norway scored their first three goals through the same player, pivot Kari Dale.

But, remember! Norway were also down 6:9 and 10:12 against Montenegro in the group phase. They ended up winning that game 35:23. When Norway are starting to get into form and into groove, they are unstoppable. Yet, right now, they are far away from that position. And Hungary missed the chance to open a 7:4 gap, only for Camilla Herrem to convert an attack. It’s 6:4 for Hungary after 11 minutes.

13:15 JST Norway’s attack set to pounce once again

Ready for the game? Here we go! No apparent changes in the Norwegian squad, who boasts the best attack up until this point in the competition, with 170 goals in five games. By comparison, Hungary have scored 142, 28 goals less per game, or nearly six goals per game throughout the five games played at Tokyo 2020.

Apart from Japan and Brazil, Hungary have the worst shooting efficiency, converting only 59% of their shots, while Norway are the most efficient side in the competition, with a 67% conversion rate.

13:05 JST Norway are ready to continue their winning streak

Norway are the only team still unbeaten across both the men's and women's competition at Tokyo 2020. They surely aim for this run to continue and are all set and highly motivated to claim the next win – but Hungary must not be underestimated as they themselves are eager to continue their Olympic journey. Who will move on to face ROC in the semi-finals? 

11:40 JST The ROC await their semi-final opponent

The ROC are the first semi-finalists at Tokyo 2020 and they will learn their opponent soon enough, after the second quarter-final in the women’s Olympic handball tournament is over. Norway are overwhelming favourites against Hungary, a team against which they won nine of the last 10 games they played each other. Hungary did not win against Norway since the EHF EURO 2014, a tournament they co-hosted (29:25). However, it was also a tournament which Norway went on to win.

The Norwegian side can become the third side to win the gold medal by sweeping their opponents since 2000, after their own performance at Beijing 2008 and Russia’s antics five years ago, at Rio 2016. On the other side, Hungary dropped their first three games, but bounced back to win the last two, yet they have issues in their squad, with injuries to backs Aniko Kovacsics and Zita Szucsanszki, who left the tournament. A young, relatively inexperienced Hungarian side at this level could face issues against a powerhouse like Norway. The game will start at 13:15 JST.

The other semi-final will pit the winner of the Sweden vs Republic of Korea clash against either France or the Netherlands, who will face off in the last quarter-final.

11:15 JST Radicevic caps off best-ever Olympic Games performance

After scoring 31 goals at the London 2012 Olympic Games and 16 goals at Rio 2016, Jovanka Radicevic has just turned back the clock and delivered a superb performance at Tokyo 2020, adding 46 goals in her best performance in the competition. Unfortunately, Radicevic did not hit the 100-goal milestone at the Olympic Games and she will not have that chance anymore in this edition, after Montenegro were sent packing by the ROC, through a 32:26 ROC win this morning.

Radicevic still leads the goal scorer standings by a big margin, 15 goals, ahead of Norway’s Nora Mork and 16 goals ahead of ROC’s Anna Vyakhireva and Korea’s Ryu Eun Hee, the first players to follow Radicevic who are still active in the competition. Mork, who is also Norway’s designated penalty taker, is still on par to seal her second consecutive top scorer title, after the one at Rio 2016.

It is a testament to Radicevic’s grit and service for her country, for which she scored nearly 1000 goals. With her 46 goals at Tokyo 2020, Radicevic has now 911 goals on her tally for Montenegro, nearly double than Katarina Bulatovic (473) and nearly 500 more than her coach, Bojana Popovic (315).

10:59 JST FINAL WHISTLE Montenegro vs ROC 26:32

And it’s over. We have the first semi-finalist of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and it’s the ROC team. It was one-way traffic at the start, a 20-minute stint of Montenegro attempting to tilt the balance their way, and a straightforward finish for the reigning Olympic champions who are back in the semi-finals for the third time in the last four editions of the Olympic Games. The ROC were simply the better side, both in attack and in defence, boasting more options for scoring and simply being the better team and executing their game plan in a more efficient way.

It was once again a one-woman show from Anna Vyakhireva, who scored eight times and dished four assists, as the MVP of the Olympic Games Rio 2016 is upping her game at exactly the right moment. This was also the ROC’s fourth win in a row and their 21st in 28 games in the competition and a very good overall performance, both in attack and in defence. But one of the most important takes is that the ROC scored at least 30 goals for the third time in four games, which showcases the sheer ability of their attack.

On the other hand, Montenegro tried to come back, but simply did not have the firepower to compete with the ROC. Radicevic and Jaukovic combined for 18 goals, with the top goal scorer of the competition adding another 10 goals before being eliminated, after Montenegro’s painful 32:26 loss. It should be a stepping stone for the Montenegrin side, who were back at the Olympic Games five years after conceding five losses in the group phase and being eliminated early.

As for the ROC team, a crunch semi-final against the winner of the Norway vs Hungary tie awaits. The ROC also met Norway five years ago in the semi-finals, at Rio 2016, when they needed extra time to squeeze out a 38:37 win in a vintage game. 



10:43 JST Fast breaks, fast game, fast win

There are crucial moments in games and failing to take advantage of them could bury one team. This is exactly what happened to Montenegro. They had the possession and the chance to cut the ROC lead to only one goal. Missing the shot caused a domino effect and the ROC side jumped to a six-goal lead, 28:22, courtesy of several fast breaks that wreaked havoc in the Montenegrin defence. This was also the strategy they deployed in the first minutes of the first half, when the ROC jumped to an early six-goal lead. What’s worse for Montenegro, Jovanka Radicevic, their captain and talisman, has hobbled out of the court with an apparent injury. She was quickly back, but, by that time, the game was already over.

Montenegro are the youngest side in the competition, with an average age of 25.3, more than one year younger than the second team in those standings. And their overall lack of experience is there to be seen, as one-on-one misses from Majda Mehmedovic and Tatjana Brnovic lifted the ROC so close to the win. Sure, the reigning Olympic champions had their issues, including a flurry of suspensions that ushered Montenegro back into the game. But, overall, they had a good performance, including a 11-save game from goalkeeper Anna Sedoykina. Ten minutes to go and the ROC are cruising, boasting a 28:23 lead.

10:36 JST ROC survive comeback attempts to lead by four

There are still some easy goals that the ROC are scoring, but this is far from the walk in the park they envisioned when they started the game with an 8:2 lead that looked enough to have an easy game. Jaukovic scored twice in the first minutes of the second half to keep Montenegro in the game, while a save from Marina Rajcic helped her side to have a chance to cut the lead to only one goal. It does not happen, but the ROC cannot open a four-goal gap either.

It’s nip and tuck, something few would have expected after the first 15 minutes of the game. But with Montenegro, you may never know. Their gritty attitude helped them plenty of times in the past, but can it also work wonders against such a strong side like the ROC? The answer seems to be yes, but ROC are still in the lead, 24:20, with 18 minutes to go. Vyakhireva and Dmitrieva combined for 11 goals, while centre back Ekaterina Ilina, the ROC’s top scorer in the tournament, has been rendered a non-factor today, scoring only two goals.

10:08 JST HALF-TIME Montenegro vs ROC 15:17

The reigning Olympic champions had two overlapping two-minute suspensions for Anna Sen and Olga Fomina, which ushered Montenegro back into the game a bit, prompting coach Aleksey Alexeev to call a time-out. Were it not for right wing Jovanka Radicevic, the top scorer of the tournament so far, whose six goals in the first half took her tally at Tokyo 2020 to 42 goals, Montenegro would have been done and dusted. Instead, they are still clinging on and hoping for a miracle, for a collapse from the ROC team in the second half.

The difference is, basically, the one established in the first minutes of the game, when the blistering pace from the ROC really shocked the Montenegrin side. When ROC slowed down, conserving their energy at times, Montenegro were able to cut the gap and stay in the game. Yet, the feeling is that whenever the ROC turn up the dial, Montenegro cannot stay in the game. It’s also true that the ROC team did not score in the last five and a half minutes of the first half and Montenegro ended the first 30 minutes with a 4:0 run.

It will be extremely interesting to see if the ROC can contain Radicevic and Jaukovic, who combined for 11 of Montenegro’s 15 goals. It’s hard to see a team winning a game with only two players scoring so many goals, basically filtering every ball in every attack, but with their grit and fighting spirit, there’s hardly one that could really do it apart from Montenegro. The main problem for the ROC team has been the penalties they conceded, five in the first half. But exactly when Radicevic could have cut the gap to only three goals, she misses her first penalty of the 22 she tried to convert in the tournament. There’s no problem, as Jaukovic, Rajcic and Mehmedovic all score to bring down ROC’s lead to only two goals, 17:15. There is no room for surprise, isn’t there?

09:54 JST Vyakhireva shows off glimpses of brilliance to lead ROC to five-goal advantage

This is a total collapse by Montenegro on both sides of the ball. On one side, their goalkeepers did not register a save in the first 20 minutes, with the ROC team scoring at every chance they had, apart from one shot they missed and the two turnovers they lost. In attack, the Montenegrin side have been pedestrian at best, with strange decision by their players, a wild shot selection and too many mistakes causing turnovers.

On the other side, the ROC are now looking like a challenger. This could be their fourth win in a row at Tokyo 2020, having scored an average of 33.3 goals per game in the last three games. Now, after 20 minutes, they have scored 14 goals, including five out of five shots from right back Anna Vyakhireva. The MVP from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is now showing why she was considered one of the biggest talents to emerge in the last decade, with dazzling breakthroughs that helped the ROC to take a 14:9 lead after 19 minutes.

09:42 JST The ROC jump the gun

By the time Montenegro’s coach Bojana Popovic rushes to hit the button that prompts a time-out for her team, the ROC team had already scored four times. Every ball turned over or every miss by the Montenegrin side has been converted into a goal by the ROC, which has been deadly on fast breaks and in transition. It was 4:0 when Popovic stopped the game briefly to channel her team’s attention in attack in defence. The result? Montenegro might have scored the first goal, but the Russian side are relentless. Left wing Polina Kuznetsova scored twice, her sister, Anna Vyakhireva, added another two, while the other wing, Iuliia Managarova, also scored once in transition.

And, unfortunately for Montenegro, the game looks over as soon as the first whistle is blown. The ROC are leading 8:2 in a lopsided start, converting all the shots they had, while the Montenegrin side is boasting a meagre 43% efficiency. As it seems, the ROC are sharp and prove to be unstoppable, shaking off their reluctant start of the tournament, with a 24:24 draw against Brazil and a heavy loss against Sweden, 24:36.

09:30 JST London 2012 silver medallists and Rio 2016 champions face off in quarter-finals

The women’s tournament at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is also reaching its business end, as today, there are four games scheduled in the quarter-finals. The first one sees finalists of the last two Olympic Games editions, Montenegro (2012) and the ROC team (2016), tough it out for one place in the semi-finals. It will be Montenegro’s fast wings vs Russia’s strength. Who is going to win? Stay with us and do not skip a beat. We got you covered!

09:15 JST Exciting quarter-final day ahead

The excitement is building up at Tokyo, where the four quarter-finals of the Olympic women’s handball tournament are set to take place today, in the Yoyogi National Stadium, the host of the last 12 days for all the Olympic handball players.

With eight teams still standing, it will be a day of reckoning, as four of team will proceed to the semi-finals and play two more matches, while the other four are out of contention and head home.

The winners of the two groups, Norway and Sweden, are overwhelming favourites against Hungary and the Republic of Korea in their respective games.

Norway are the only side to have swept their opponents on the way to the quarter-finals, securing five wins and creating a +47 goal difference, nearly double than the second-best goal difference in the competition, posted by the Netherlands (+26).

On the other hand, Hungary are peaking at the right moment, after starting the group with a three-game losing streak. Wins against Spain and Sweden and a touch of luck from the other results helped the Hungarian side qualify after returning at the Olympic Games for the first time since Beijing 2008.

Sweden might have lost their unbeaten status, but will be favoured against the Republic of Korea, the team with the worst defence in the competition. The Asian side conceded 165 goals, an average of 35 goals per game, 16 more than any other qualified team. 

The Republic of Korea won a single game and drew another on their way to progressing in the next phase of the competition for the ninth time in 10 editions. They have already improved their own result at Rio 2016, when they failed to qualify from the group phase and ended on the 10th place.

The other two games are wide open. Montenegro will be eyeing to progress to the semi-finals and fight for the medal only five years after losing all games in the group phase at Rio 2016. In their short history since being established as a nation, Montenegro have played nine times against the ROC, winning three games, drawing one and losing five. However, the ROC team won the last four matches, with Montenegro’s last win against their opponents coming at the EHF EURO 2012, over eight years ago.

The quarter-final card will be completed by a classic in the making between France and the Netherlands. The Dutch side conceded only one loss, 27:29, against Norway, finishing second, while France secured their quarter-finals berth only on the final round of Group B, after their win against Brazil.

It will be a battle between two French tactical masterminds in Olivier Krumbholz and Emmanuel Mayonnade, with at least one of them securing a semi-final berth.

France have seven wins against the Dutch side, including three in the last four, one of which was a 24:23 win in the semi-finals at Rio 2016. From that match, the Dutch side brought back eight players to Tokyo 2020, while France have seven players in their extended roster.

All the latest info regarding statistics and standings can be found on our page dedicated to the women's tournament at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.