IHF World Cup XXVII | Match Summary – Portugal vs France
January 24, 2021
By J. Schuetz
Portugal vs France 23:32 (12:16)
Before the Match
A number of scenarios where feasible as Christian Sorensen pointed out on Twitter. In short, three teams still had a chance to reach the two quarterfinal spots – France, Portugal as well as Norway.
Who will progress from Group III?
Assuming Norway beat Iceland and Algerie.
FRA win or draw: 1🇫🇷 2🇳🇴
— Christian Sørensen * (@StevieY82) January 22, 2021
France took matters in their own hands and very quickly the aforementioned speculations which team could or would make it to the knockout round of the competition became obsolete.
The six-time world champion began focused and would not losen the grip on the game throughout the sixty minutes. A nine goal difference properly reflected the performance between the two teams at the Dr. Hassan Moustafa Sports Hall.
In the opening phase, Portugal took the lead twice before ‘Les Bleus’ tightened their grip led by Kentin Mahe.
Timothey N’Guessan and Dika Mem proved to be unstoppable and a determined team effort soon produced a 12:10 (20th minute) advantage.
Portugal was impressed and could not answer the call. To the contrary – the team of head coach, Paulo Pereira, went cold and only scored on two occasions before the half time break.
In fact the score could have been even higher if Luka Karabatic and Luc Abalo would have converted on their wide open chances.
The picture did not change much aside from Portugal putting the extra player on the pitch, when in offense.
But, this time the squad’s signature move did not shift the momentum in their favor. Open shots did not find their target and midway through the half the tactic was abandoned.
On the other side, Vincent Gerard stepped up his game considerably and left wing, Hugo Descat, was the main beneficiary of the outstanding performance of the French goalkeeper, scoring a game high eight goals.
Focus and determination – France wanted this victory and it showed on both ends of the court from the first whistle.
While Portugal produced a number of spectacular individual actions, such as the shot of Andre Gomes over Luka Karabatic …
Andre Gomes just jumped OVER Luka Karabatic!
— (Un)informed Handball Hour (@HandballHour) January 24, 2021
…the success of the men in blue was broad based as almost every player scored. Add to it a very agile defense effort and the story of the match is told.
Coach, Gille Guillaume, deserves credit and his contributions warrant much praise. In the absence of superstar, Nikola Karabatic, he has formed a championship contender that looks more and more serious with each day passing.
V. Iturizza (2), M. Martins (6), B. Moreira (1), R. Silva (1), A. Borges (2), D. Branquinho (3), A. Cavalcanti (3), A. Gomes (4), F. Magalhaes (1)
N. Remili (2), R. Lagarde (3), M. Richardson (3), D. Mem (5), N. Tournat (1), K. Mahe (1), T. N’Guessan (5), M. Guigou (3), L. Fabregas (1), H. Descat (8)
France will have to wait until Monday to learn about their opponent in the quarterfinal (Spain or Hungary). No matter which country will emerge, the ‘Les Bleus’ appear to be well equipped to deal with either team.