Netherlands take first world title with last-second penalty

15 Dec. 2019

Netherlands take first world title with last-second penalty

After a thrilling event full of nail-biting matches and surprises, the 24th IHF Women’s World Championship title was decided with a fitting final – and it was the Netherlands who ended the long wait for a trophy at the final buzzer when Lois Abbingh scored the winning goal. 

Four years ago in Denmark, the Netherlands secured their first major international medal when they finished as World Championship runners-up. At Germany 2017, they added the bronze to their collection – and now that collection is complete, with the gold medal won at Japan 2019. 

For Spain, the silver medal is the best result in history, which shows immense promise before they host the next IHF Women’s World Championship in 2021. 

Spain vs Netherlands 29:30 (13:16) 

Just as they had in the semi-final against Norway, Spain started with highly effective 6-0 defence that proved very successful in shutting down the Netherlands’ key back-court players. Spain profited from their defence with several early fast breaks, scoring three in the first five minutes and prompting an early time-out from Netherlands coach Emmanuel Mayonnade in the sixth minute, 6:2. 

Mayonnade’s talk during the pause was clearly beneficial, as his team returned stronger with more ideas in attack. However, Spain’s defence was still effective in cutting the critical connection between Dutch backs Estavana Polman and Lois Abbingh. 

Slowly, the Netherlands fought to equalise at 9:9 just after the 16-minute mark. Following a time-out from Spain coach Carlos Viver, the Netherlands’ defence became much stronger, and when Spain scored a penalty for 10:9 in the 22nd minute, they had endured a drought of 11 minutes. 

The Netherlands’ defence was so effective the only way Spain could score for some time was on penalties, although Rinka Duijndam saved one in the 24th minute to keep the edge for her side at 11:10. With a run of goals to finish the half, the Netherlands turned a one-goal lead into a distance of three in time for the break, setting themselves with a more comfortable lead to defend. 

With Wester increasingly stronger and Spain struggling to score, the Netherlands pulled ahead, hitting a 22:17 advantage in the 40th minute. But, in what was clearly a great contest between the coaching tacticians, a time-out from Viver inspired Spain to come back. 

The Netherlands’ attack also had some errors due to Spain’s defence, but the decisive factor was Wester’s saves, which kept Spain from drawing level. Nevertheless, with a penalty scored in the 52nd minute, Alexandrina Cabral Barbosa reduced the deficit to one, 25:26. As the last five minutes began, the score line was still just one goal, with the Netherlands in front 28:27. 

Spain had the chance to level on a fast break in the 58th, but Wester saved Cabral Barbosa’s attempt. Wester was thwarted on the next chance however, and Marta Lopez levelled the game 29:29 in with just over two minutes on the clock. 

After both sides had the chance to win the match from positional attack, it came down to a penalty called with second remaining. With her seventh goal of the match, during which she had become the top scorer of the World Championship as she passed Republic of Korea’s Eun Hee Ryu, Abbingh scored the game – and title – winner.