03 Dec. 2019
It was by far the closest match of the day when Norway and Serbia took the court for the last round 3 match in Group A at the 24th IHF Women’s World Championship, and it ended with the Scandinavian side celebrating their third victory – while Serbia suffered their first loss.
With the win, Norway moved up to six points on the table, while Serbia stayed on four. Norway therefore sit alone on top of Group A, and Serbia are level on points with the Netherlands.
Norway vs Serbia 28:25 (13:12)
It was an exciting, high-quality match to close round 3 for Group A, with a level game through to the 38th minute, when Norway began to pull ahead. From 17:17, three unanswered goals – from backs Emilie Hegh Arntzen and Stine Ruscetta Skogrand, and wing Camilla Herrem – turned the game in Norway’s favour.
Norway created an advantage of five goals, 25:20, in the 51st minute, before Serbia pulled it back to a two-goal game at 25:23 in the 56th. With still plenty of time for Serbia to draw level or take the win, the match was on the edge and every action was key.
A penalty save from Serbia goalkeeper Katarina Tomasevic in the 58th minute, with the distance still at two, 26:24, opened the door for her side to come closer. But it was Norway wing Malin Aune who struck next, deciding the game in the record EHF EURO champions’ favour with a three-goal distance and just over a minute remaining.
Tomasevic had played a great game for Serbia, as did her rival in Norway’s goal, Silje Solberg. The result was one of the best goalkeeping contests seen so far at Japan 2019, with both Tomasevic and Solberg recording a rate of 37%. While Solberg’s record included one penalty save, Tomasevic stopped an incredible four from the seven-metre line.
In attack, both teams relied on a brilliant all-round effort. In particular, the fine skills in the back courts were on display. For Norway, Arntzen and centre back Stine Oftedal scored seven goals each – but the performance was about far more than their goal tallies as Oftedal in particular played her usual role of key playmaker.
Serbia’s centre back, Kristina Liscevic, was also outstanding. She led her side with six goals, and worked seamlessly in combination with her other backs and the line players.
Just as had happened in their round 2 encounter, Norway fell behind their opponents in the first period, with Serbia opening a 6:4 lead in the 14th minute. Serbia held onto the edge until the 26th minute, when Norway equalised and then claimed the lead, taking a one-goal advantage into the break.
Although they equalised the game more than once in the early stages of the second half, Serbia never held the upper hand again, and Norway served their opponents their first defeat at the World Championship.
hummel Player of the Match: Stine Oftedal, Norway
Photo: JHA/Sports Event