Netherlands top Group A with first win vs Norway since 1999
06 Dec. 2019
It has been 20 years since the Netherlands last defeated Norway, and the teams have met in many significant games in recent years – and finally, on Friday night in the last game for Group A at the 24th IHF Women’s World Championship, the Netherlands earned the long-awaited victory.
The Netherlands had to come back from a four-goal half-time deficit, securing the win in the final 10 minutes, which they completely dominated.
Netherlands vs Norway 30:28 (14:18)
Norway have denied the Netherlands titles, a medal and a place in a final over the last four years, and the recent history has left the Dutch with considerable hunger to overcome the Scandinavian side. They could have asked no bigger confidence boost than what came in round 5, as the Netherlands secured a two-goal win, the two points from the encounter, and first place in the group.
Norway rank second after the result, with six points, while Serbia are also on six after their win versus Slovenia earlier in the day. The three sides will proceed to the main round.
Both Norway and the Netherlands are known for their speed but the pace at which the match opened was incredible, with five goals in the first two minutes. Neither keeper had any chance at first, but soon Silje Solberg for Norway and Tess Wester for the Netherlands began to make the task more difficult for the attackers. Wester went from strength to strength during the match, and by the time the last 10 minutes began, the keeper was all but impossible to beat.
It was during the last 10 minutes that the match was won, with only three goals from Norway in the final stages, while the Netherlands secured the deciding lead and clearly had all the momentum on their side. The Netherlands were undoubtedly helped by the fact that they had already fought back from behind – after pushing Norway’s confidence down as they came from a four-goal half-time deficit to level at 23:23 in the 43rd, they only had to continue with the roll started in the 40th minute with a goal from Estavana Polman.
However, it was an exciting finish to the game, nonetheless. Norway captain Stine Oftedal brought her side within one goal twice in the last 10 minutes, first at 27:26 in the 53rd and then 28:27 in the 54th, but then the Dutch defence and important saves from Wester opened the door for Danick Snelder and Polman to score the two goals that earned the Netherlands a 30:27 lead in the 55th.
From there, neither side found the goal until Norway wing Malin Aune struck in the last minute, but the distance was too great for the 2015 world champions to overcome so late in the game.
Norway had moved ahead to a promising advantage in the first period, holding the lead at 9:4 in the 13th minute and 12:7 in the 19th when Oftedal scored what was already her fifth goal. The Netherlands came back within one but a 4:1 partial spearheaded by Silje Waade created the half-time advantage for Norway.
Whatever words were shared between the Netherlands at half-time were exactly what was needed, as they never gave in and were rewarded in the end with the victory that sets them with a promising start to the main round.
hummel Player of the Match: Tess Wester, Netherlands
Photo: JHA/Sports Event