Group II: Norway win critical Scandinavian thriller

21 Jan. 2019

Group II: Norway win critical Scandinavian thriller

Norway collected a crucial two points in their second match of the 26th IHF Men’s World Championship main round, defeating Sweden by three goals after a classic derby. The last time the teams met, at the EHF EURO 2018, the game also ended in a three-goal win for Norway.

The victory took Norway to six points and threw the semi-final race in Group II wide open. It remains a contest between Denmark, Norway and Sweden, with all now level on points – but Denmark have yet to play their second main round match, versus Egypt.

Sweden vs Norway 27:30 (14:17)

The Scandinavian derby delivered just the thrilling encounter expected, with nothing decided until the closing minutes. It was hummel player of the match Magnus Jondal’s 11th goal followed by an important save from Torbjorn Bergerud that sealed the result in Norway’s favour, as Sweden were only two behind with two minutes remaining – plenty of time to level the game or take the upper hand.

Despite the win, the match highlighted an apparent weakness for Norway. After only seven players made their way onto the score board against Egypt in their opening main round clash on Sunday night, just six players contributed goals to the result on Monday evening. Jondal was the lead scorer, also due to his penalty shots, but Sander Sagosen was key, with his assists and seven goals.

Sweden’s defence was highly effective in controlling Norway’s back court, and though Sagosen finished with an impressive individual tally, most of his goals came in the second half when the defence began to crumble. In the first period, Sweden played 6-0 that focused on keeping Norway’s back court out of their favoured shooting positions.

It was for this reason that the wings became so important for Norway, with Jondal reaching seven goals by the end of the first 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, Norway’s accuracy from nine metres was only 17% – even more significant considering both Sagosen and right back Magnus Rod scored 10 goals versus Egypt on Sunday evening. At the other end of the court, Sweden faced tough 6-0 defence themselves – but they managed goals from the back court and line player Andreas Nilsson (five goals and Sweden’s top scorer).  

It was a level game throughout. With three minutes remaining in the first half, the score was 14:14, before Norway added the final three goals before half-time to open an important advantage. Early in the second 30 minutes, Norway made the most of two suspensions for Sweden and built their lead to 19:15 by the 33rd. A time-out called by Sweden coach Kristjan Andresson did not help his side stop Norway’s momentum, and Rod’s third goal in the 37th opened a 22:15 lead for the 2017 World Championship runners-up.

Sweden managed a comeback, decreasing the distance to 20:25 as the last quarter began and then 25:27 in the 56th off a long-range goal from Kim Andersson. However, Sweden could not come closer than that, and Norway celebrated the points at the final buzzer.

Statements after the match:
Kristjan Andresson, coach Sweden: Firstly, I would like to say congratulations to Norway. We lost the momentum in the end of the first half. Good game, but Norway was better than us.

Christian Berge, coach Norway: First, I would like to thank Sweden. Today was a lot of running, a game with a lot of pace. We played yesterday and we were very tired. We are happy to have a day off tomorrow.