01 Dec. 2023
Without star left back Cristina Neagu, out due to an injury, Romania threw off their campaign at the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship with a big win over Chile, 44:19, getting closer to a main round berth.
Romania vs Chile 44:19 (25:6)
14 years ago, at China 2009, Romania secured their largest-ever win in history at the IHF Women’s World Championship, 51:17, against Chile, but at least on paper, Romania were not going to break that record on Friday, in their debut at Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023, as they were facing the same opponent.
While Cristina Neagu is still dealing with an injury, Romania had to resort to some tweaks in their line-up, as this was a match where they looked to be setting up for their future clashes against Serbia and Denmark, therefore a huge gap might have not been expected.
Nevertheless, Florentin Pera’s side went full throttle, even without Neagu in the squad, as Romania jumped to an early 12:2 lead, which prompted a Chile team time-out, with goalkeeper Diana Ciucă starring between the posts, with three saves out of the five shots she faced, for a 60% saving efficiency.
Ciucă continued to deliver an excellent performance throughout the first half, which she finished with a 55% saving efficiency, as Chile’s attack never found the way to really stress Romania, as they only had a 30% attacking efficiency, with the gap ballooning to 19 goals, 25:6, the largest-ever lead at the break at the IHF Women’s World Championship for the European side.
With the win in the bag, Florentin Pera did shuffle his squad as much as possible in the second half, as Chile still struggled to get their attack going, albeit scoring four times in the first five minutes, tying their output from the first half – six goals – in only nine minutes of the second half.
As all Romania outfield players scored at least one goal, the European side eventually secured a clear 44:19 win, after lagging a bit in the second half, but still with encouraging signs for the next matches, while Chile proved they can provide a strong challenge in the second half for at least some moments.
With 12 goals scored on the fast break, Romania failed to beat their record for the largest win in history, but sealed a 25-goal win, which is their seventh largest at the IHF Women’s World Championship.
Romania will face Serbia in the next match on Sunday, with a win virtually sealing a main round berth, but they will surely sweat over the fitness of their star, Cristina Neagu, whose muscular injury might prevent her to play in this preliminary round.
On the other hand, Chile will take this a big lesson in their return after 14 years at the IHF Women’s World Championship, with the next match being even tougher, a clash against co-hosts Denmark.
hummel Player of the Match: Eliza Buceschi (Romania)