All-square for Spain and Norway in Group A

08 Aug. 2019

All-square for Spain and Norway in Group A

Both halves of this European clash finished even with the fifth-placed 2018 EHF EURO side Spain failing in the last four seconds to get a win against the 11th-placed Norwegians, who now have their first point of the 2019 IHF Men’s Youth World Championship. The 28:28 result was the first draw at the championship, currently underway in Skopje, North Macedonia.

Norway vs Spain 28:28 (13:13)
Jane Sandanski Arena

Johnny Jensen had the reaction he wanted from his Norway side after their opening day 10-goal loss to Croatia, but, despite his side celebrating a defeated last second attack from Spain to grab a point, the coach may be wondering how they let slip a number of leads throughout the 60 minutes.

The opening few minutes were nothing short of a disaster for Spain, with their coach Alberto Suarez asking for the time out card from his coaching staff on the bench after just 150 seconds as Norway were already 3:0 ahead. Suarez was about to let his team take a breather in the frenetic opening, but moments later, through Ander Izquierdo, they eventually got off the mark and he promptly handed the card back.

Suarez did call a time out soon after though (5:2, 6th minute) as Norway did not let up and by the 10th minute they were up by five (8:3) against the deep Spanish defence playing between 5-1 and 3-2-1 formations at times.

Eventually, Spain found their rhythm and Jensen himself had to call a time out (19th minute) as Spain were close to equalising, which they did (11:11 – 21st minute) with a man advantage, after Victor Sprus Helsinghof was off court serving a suspension.

A Norwegian turnover then allowed Alberto Diaz the opportunity to put his side ahead for the first time which he duly took, delightfully dinking over Andre Kirstensen to make it 12:11.

That goal came in a five minute period of dominance for Spain (4:0) which had put them up by two with five minutes remaining, but Jorg Gjermundnes grabbed a double and the teams went in all-even as Spain defended the last Norway attack.

A disjointed first 10 minutes of the second half saw both teams go on runs, but the game settled back into its rhythm with the teams cancelling each other out.

The last five minutes saw a more pressurised Spanish defence and with Norway’s Tollef Lindqvist off the court with a suspension, Norway took off their goalkeeper to force the lead, but a steal and then a half-court shot from a near-horizontal Alex Pascual saw the ball nestle into the empty Norway net (27:26) and Pascual stood up in sheer passion, hitting his chest proudly, and full of adrenaline.

The momentum was with Spain now, but Norway kept coming back and eventually, Ola Lillelien was picked out by Simen Lyse across the area and managed to cut in and leave it all level at 28:28.

A Spain time out saw them restart with four seconds left but Norway kept them out and both sides took a point.

“It was a close and open match, spectacular for the spectators but, for us, we suffered," said coach to Suarez to the Royal Spanish Handball Federation website after the match. “It was difficult for us to get into the game, but the team has reacted well. In the second half with chased, but I think it is a fair result for both.”

Despite being in the lead for long periods, Norway coach Jensen was pleased with the result. “I am very happy that we got the point, but we hoped for two,” he said. “We were very close to losing this game, but we fought in every situation. We could have won, but Spain is a very good team, so we are satisfied.”

Best Player of the Match: Alex Pascual Garcia (ESP)