Sweden celebrate quarter-final berth, as Hungary crash out of contention
09 Dec. 2023
Co-hosts Sweden were down by one goal at half-time against Hungary, but turned the game on its head in the second half, earning their fifth straight win at the 26th IHF Women's World Championship, 26:22, subsequently earning their ticket for the the next phase and sending their European counterparts crashing out of the competition.
Hungary vs Sweden 22:26 (11:10)
While Sweden and their fans jumped for joy after the final buzzer, their rivals were left devastated. Hungary may still go level on points with the second-placed Montenegro, but the Balkan side will rank higher on a head-to-head result in that case, therefore Vladimir Golovin's side have no chances of progression. Only Montenegro and Croatia stay in contention for the second quarter-final berth in Group I, and if Montenegro beat Sweden on Monday, they will even finish top of the group.
The match between Hungary and Sweden was a tight affair since the opening minute, with both sides relying on good defence and solid goalkeeping. But Hungary had a slight advantage, and powered by a couple of goals from Csenge Kucsora, they were boasting a 6:3 lead, knowing full well that the win was their only option.
However, it did not take long for Sweden to hit back. While Evelina Eriksson and Irma Schjött had shone against weaker opponents in the previous matches, their most experienced goalkeeper, Johanna Bundsen, was back on court for the game with Hungary, and her two penalty saves from Kucsora and Katrin Klujber helped the co-hosts draw level, 6:6.
But Sweden failed to keep momentum, and after about 10 minutes of exchanging goals, Vladimir Golovin's team took the initiative again, restoring a three-goal advantage at 11:8. Blanka Bode-Biro boasted a 38% save rate in the first half, but her teammate Anna Albek missed a couple of shots late in the first half. Two goals from Emma Lindqvist helped usher Sweden back in the match, as the half-time score was well-balanced, 11:10.
With seven goals, Lindqvist went on to become the joint top scorer of the match alongside her teammate, Jamina Roberts, who rose to prominence after the restart. Roberts' three goals in quick succession helped the co-hosts to hit back and take a 14:12 lead, making Golovin to ask for a time-out six minutes into the second half. But it was not of much help, as a string of further heroics by Bundsen, the hummel Player of the Match, who ended the match with 15 saves and a 41% save rate, helped Sweden to extend their advantage to five goals, 18:13.
With their confidence boosted, Tomas Axner's team now had the match under their control, and all Hungary could do as to slash the gap to three goals a couple of times. But when Bundsen saved her third penalty of the day at 24:20 three minutes from full-time, Sweden's win was all but secure, with the co-hosts eventually sealing a 26:22 win, which earned them a quarter-finals spot.
hummel Player of the Match: Johanna Bundsen (Sweden)