Terrific comeback lifts Germany past sorry Romania
07 Dec. 2023
Down three goals at half-time, Germany provided one of the best comebacks at the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship, to deliver a magnific win over Romania, 24:22, vastly improving their chances for progression to the quarter-finals for the third consecutive time in the world handball flagship competition.
Germany vs Romania 24:22 (9:12)
After their 23:39 loss against Denmark in the last match of the preliminary round, Romania had only one chance to still be in the hunt for a quarter-finals berth: win their inaugural match against Germany, which were coming in hot, after a 14-goal win against Poland. But the IHF Women’s World Championship can be unpredictable and this is exactly what happened in the first half in the Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning.
However, Romania, which looked totally unprepared for the match against Denmark, had a huge boost, as star left back Cristina Neagu took the court for the first time at Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023, finally emerging after a three-week setback from a muscular injury, which hampered her preparation.
Nevertheless, Romania’s coach, Florentin Pera, urged caution and did not throw Neagu on the court from the start, but his team fired from all cylinders taking an early 6:3 lead, courtesy of some excellent goals from Eliza Buceschi, with Romania’s defence also standing tall against their counterparts.
Germany did not impress, as Alina Grijseels was stopped in the centre of their attack, while captain Emily Bölk missed her first three shots and turned the ball over four times, with Markus Gaugisch’s attack providing only a meagre 41% efficiency in the first 30 minutes, as Romania looked over the gap.
As Neagu entered the court in the 21st minute, Romania were inspired by their top player, who scored twice in the first half, while goalkeeper Daciana Hosu shined between the posts, with a 45% saving efficiency, with Germany also missing two penalties, which added to their woes.
What followed, though, was a total collapse of Romania and Germany doing precisely the right things they needed to secure a crucial win and make an enormous step towards the quarter-finals, with a huge comeback, one of the biggest so far at Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023.
For nine minutes and 56 seconds, Germany were superb in defence, with goalkeeper Katharina Filter stopping all the shots she faced, totally dominating Romania’s wings, who missed five shots throughout the whole match. During that span, Germany went on a 5:0 unanswered run, which turned the game on its head, right after Romania had a chance to open a four-goal gap.
Two team time-outs called by Florentin Pera did not have the soothing effect he envisioned, as Romania scored only five goals in the first 20 minutes of the second half, with nothing looking to really work for his side in attack, not even a seven-on-six attack, or Neagu’s shots, who were stopped by Filter or by Germany’s block.
It went from bad to worse for Romania, as Germany put together another 5:2 run, with their attack firing from all cylinders, with some superb shots coming from all over the court, and converted fast breaks which helped Markus Gaugisch’s side create an unassailable 22:17 lead with 10 minutes to go.
Romania did try to mount their own comeback, but Bianca Bazaliu's three consecutive goals did not matter, as Germany eventually sealed a crucial 24:22 win, as their excellent second half opened the door for Markus Gaugisch's fourth consecutive win in the competition.
Germany are now even closer to sealing a quarter-finals berth, as they now have six points in the standings, four more than Romania, and two in front of Poland, whom they have already won against.
On the other hand, both the quarter-finals dream and the Olympic Qualification Tournament one seem to have gone up in smoke for Florentin Pera’s side, which will now face Japan and Poland in the last two matches at Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023.
hummel Player of the Match: Katharina Filter (Germany)