10 Dec. 2019
Sweden earned the victory needed to keep their semi-final hopes alive in their second main round match in Group II on Tuesday night, defeating Romania with a comfortable final score line and moving up to five points on the table.
Sweden now occupy third position behind Spain, on seven. The race for the group’s second semi-final ticket is now only between these sides.
Russia qualified for the semi-finals earlier in the day and will aim to win the group in round 3.
Sweden vs Romania 34:22 (14:9)
While everything was on the line for Sweden, who would lose their chance to reach the Japan 2019 semi-finals with a defeat, Romania were already eliminated from the running for the 24th IHF Women’s World Championship title. However, Romania were still playing for the highest possible ranking and did not make it an easy match for Sweden.
Regardless, the motivation was clearly stronger for the Scandinavian side. Sweden raced ahead to a 4:0 lead in the fourth minute while Romania struggled to find the goal. However, once Romania did hit the net with their opener from wing Aneta Udristioiu, they were quick to reduce the distance.
Romania came back within one goal at 4:3 in the 10th minute, but led by a sharpshooting left wing Olivia Mellegard, Sweden pulled ahead again to create a commanding lead at the break. When a time-out was called in the 25th minute, 12:8, Mellegard was responsible for five of Sweden’s goals, with seven other players from her side counting one.
After the clear half-time distance, the outcome was quickly decided as Sweden continued to increase the gap. With 15 minutes to play, Sweden hit a 24:17 advantage, despite Romania playing seven-against-six in an effort to reduce the deficit.
Although he used the tactic, it seemed Romania coach Tomas Ryde had decided the match was over – either that or he chose to give the chance to his younger squad members who might be hungry to prove themselves. Ryde brought 19-year-old goalkeeper Diana Ciuca in in the 45th minute, and took current World Player of the Year Cristian Neagu off the court.
With the fresh inspiration and some great saves from Ciuca, Romania did come a little closer, but Sweden were never really threatened. When the Scandinavian side held the advantage at 26:19 in minute 50 and then 29:22 in the 55th, there was no doubt they would clinch the critical two points.
hummel Player of the Match: Olivia Mellegard, Sweden