27 Jan. 2019
It came down to the very last second, when France secured the 26th IHF Men’s World Championship bronze medal following a thrilling 60 minutes during which nothing could separate them from Germany.
The 3/4 play-off looked set to proceed into extra time when Germany goalkeeper Silvio Heinevetter saved what could have been France’s last attack, but the record world champions regained possession with seconds to spare. It was three-time World Handball Player of the Year Nikola Karabatic who had the final say, hitting the net exactly one second before the buzzer sounded.
Germany vs France 25:26 (13:9)
It was defence and the goalkeepers that decided the bronze medal at the 26th IHF Men’s World Championship. The sides spent the entire 60 minutes figuring out different ways to beat their opponents, with both coaches – Christian Prokop for Germany and Didier Dinart for France – continually changing their line-ups as they looked for the players who were having their best day.
While it was clearly an all-round team performance that led both teams through the game, there were some spectacular individual efforts. France’s Kentin Mahe was at his finest, not only scoring seven goals but orchestrating his side’s attack and receiving the hummel player of the match award for his effort. In goal, Vincent Gerard had a great performance after replacing Cyril Dumoulin in the 12th minute. Dumoulin started strong but was forced off the court after an injury.
However, it was clearly Germany keeper Andreas Wolff who was the star in goal. Wolff recorded a rate of 39% before leaving the court in the final five minutes of the game. Germany captain Uwe Gensheimer also reached the seven-goal mark, although his entire team contributed to the final score, with the goalkeepers the only players not making it onto the scoreboard.
France had to put in a big effort in the second period, as they left the court for half-time with a four-goal deficit against them. It was level until the 26th minute, 9:9, before Germany recorded a 4:0 partial that pulled them in front to a promising advantage. But France found their championship-winning form in the second half, drawing equal by the 36th minute, 14:14. Two minutes later, Patrick Wiencek received a red card after three suspensions, which was a critical blow for Germany’s defence.
France temporarily pulled away, leading 19:17 in the 45th minute, but Germany fought back. In the 55th minute, the score stayed level at 22:22, and with 30 seconds left it remained locked, at 25:25. After a time-out called by Dinart, Silvio Heinevetter made a decisive save on what could have been France’s last attack in regular time. However, Germany lost the ball inside the final 10 seconds, opening the door for France to take the one-goal victory. Following consultation with the video replay system, the ball was ruled to have crossed the line in the 59th second of the final minute. And with that, France won their fourth World Championship bronze medal.
Statements after the match
Didier Dinart, coach France: We knew that we had delivered a bad performance against Denmark in the semi-final and we could not leave the tournament with three losses in a row.
Nikola Karabatic, player France: Germany played very well today and they made it difficult for us to score in the first half. We had a long talk in the break. We were lucky to get the victory today and we have to keep in mind that Germany could have won today as well.
Christian Prokop, coach Germany: First of all congratulations to France with the bronze medal. It is a bitter and disappointing feeling to be left with after this match. In the second half we lost the courage we had in the first half and in the end France were cleverer.
Tim Suton, player Germany: We deserved the bronze medal but we faced a team, who have played many of these matches before. It was the small things that made the difference today.