History made in Kumamoto! Spain reach first World Championship final

13 Dec. 2019

History made in Kumamoto! Spain reach first World Championship final

It was an incredible victory for Spain, who qualified for their first IHF Women’s World Championship final with a commanding victory over Norway. Spain took the lead in the first half and survived a comeback from Norway for the break, before completely controlling the second period to take a win that would never have been predicted at the beginning of Japan 2019. 

Norway vs Spain 22:28 (13:13)

Following a level opening to the match, Spain’s stronger defence gave Norway a shock and the 2015 world champions found themselves on the back foot. After 6:6 in the 11th minute, Spain took control, as their defence kept Norway out of the goal for nine minutes. 

When Silvia Navarro saved her first of two penalties stopped in the first half, in the 15th minute, Spain held the edge at 7:6 – and the moment paved the way for Spain to pull firmly in front. By the time Norway right wing Malin Aune ended her team’s scoring drought in the 20th minute, Spain had created a four-goal advantage, which Aune’s shot closed to 7:10. 

Although Spain changed defensive formation, switching first to 5-1 and then marking out Norway captain and centre back Stine Oftedal, the Scandinavian side came back as they found big gaps for Aune and Camilla Herrem on the wing. Navarro made a second penalty in the last minute of the half, but Stine Skogrand equalised at 13:13 for Norway in the final seconds before the break – and just like the semi-final before it, the match was open for either side to take the win with a level score. 

In the second period, Norway goalkeeper Silje Solberg caused more trouble for Spain – but Spain’s defence at the other end of the court proved far more difficult to beat. When Spain hit a four-goal lead, 21:17, approaching the final quarter of the match, Norway coach Thorir Hergeirsson had no choice but to call a time-out to slow their opponents’ run.

However, Spain’s defence was simply exceptional. They caused turnover after turnover, and Norway fell further behind. It was only a few minutes after Norway’s second time-out that Hergeirsson had to use his third, as Spain hit a 24:18 advantage. Norway changed their goalkeeper to Andrea Pedersen, and she saved the first shot against her – a difficult fast break in the 46th minute. 

Pedersen’s save could have been the turning point, but Spain goalkeeper Darly Zoqbi de Paula came on for two penalty shots and when the first hit the post, and she saved the second, two critical chances for Norway were stopped. 

There were some nervous moments for Spain, as the distance was a clear but still surmountable 25:19 in the 50th minute. But some huge saves from Navarro and the continued outstanding defence kept a clear advantage for Spain, and when the last five minutes of the match began with a 27:20 lead for the ‘Guerreras’, the outcome was decided. 

hummel Player of the Match: Almudena Rodriguez, Spain