Women´s tournament, second match day – Norway are back in the race for Olympic gold after defeating Spain 27:24 Monday.
However, it is still the Brazilians, who are shining! In their second game; Morten Soubak’s team demolished Romania 26:13.
Angola took another stunning victory defeating Montenegro 27:25.
By Peter Bruun
MATCH OF THE DAY
Group A – Spain vs Norway 24:27 (10:11)
Would Norway be able to rise after their disappointing 31:28 opening defeat against the Brazilian hosts, was the critical question ahead of the match?
Allowing 31 goals is not normal for Norway – would Hergeirsson’s squad manage to tighten their otherwise solid defense? Would Katrine Lunde and Kari Aalvik Grimsbø in goal be able to improve on their performance of the opening match?
Spain, on the other hand, started with an impressive 25:19 win against Montenegro, and the big question was if they would be able to continue in the same fashion against the ruling Olympic champions, World champions and European champions?
When the two teams met in the group phase of the London Olympics 2012, Spain won 25:20 – but Norway went on to win the gold.
Spain’s coach, Jorge Duenas, had decided to replace Silvia Navarro with Darly Zoqbi de Paula in goal, and this decision turned out to be a wise step, as de Paula did her best shaking Norway’s confidence with numerous great saves.
However, Kari Aalvik Grimsbø also raised her level compared to her relative poor performances against Brazil – the two great goalkeepers contributed to keep the overall score down.
As half time approaches, Spain seemed to be running out of ideas, while Marit Malm Frafjord proved that she still is an asset in attack.
At half time, only one goal separated the two teams.
Norway would not stumble twice in a row. That was the lesson from this second half, where the Spaniards were reminded of their own limitations.]
With a much faster and more powerful play of attack than in their opening match, Norway established a comfortable lead, as the last 30 minutes proceeded.
The finally figured out de Paula and a six-goal lead, proved to be decisive, even though Spain managed to cut the margin of difference towards the end of the match.
The Norwegian “jenter” are back as contenders for their third consecutive Olympic gold.
Thorir Hergeirsson´s women were motivated and showed more of a physical presence than in their game against Brazil. But they still need to improve, especially in their established attack, before they can truly convince me that they are heading for another Olympic gold medal.
Spain may still be candidate for a medal, but their effort this Monday afternoon in Rio revealed that they are still some way from their top level.
Other matches in Group A
Brazil vs Romania 26:13 (14:9)
Not even a red card for Eduarda Amorim after only 17 minutes could shake Brazil, as they steamrolled Romania.
Even without their biggest star, Morten Soubak´s women were able to take revenge for the defeat against Romania in the eighth-final at the 2015 World Championship, in Denmark, back in December.
Brazil were leading 10:5 when Amorim was disqualified, and they were also up by five at half time, before they turned the game into a complete night mare for Romania.
While Brazil emphasized once again, that they will have to be considered a serious contender for gold, Romania will need four points – maybe more – in their last three group matches against Norway, Spain and Montenegro in order to proceed to the quarter-final.
It increasingly looks like a mission impossible.
Angola vs Montenegro 27:25 (12:12)
At the World Championship in Denmark, Montenegro defeated Angola 38:28.
Now, nine months later, Angola defeated Montenegro 27:25!
The Africans proved, that their victory against Romania was no coincidence and took a huge step towards the quarter-final, while Montenegro is on the edge of leaving the tournament prematurely.
Angola were leading by four goals in the first half, but Montenegro came back. Unfazed by the Montenegrin effort, Angola went up six goals in the second half once again before settling the score at 27:25.
South Korea vs Sweden 28:31 (15:16)
The fact that Korea had a four months long training camp ahead of the Olympics, showed in their combinations and timing in their attack.
However, the long preparation did not provide the Korean players the necessary physical resources to last an entire match.
In their opening game against Russia, Korean had to watch a seven-goal lead change into a five-goal defeat. Aagainst Sweden, they were leading 12:8, only to see the Scandinavians catch up before half time.
With four points, Sweden are virtually in the quarter-final, while Korea are struggling to reach that very same objective.
France vs Russia 25:26 (10:15)
11 goals from Alexandra Lacrabere were not enough for France in this meeting between the two winners of the first round.
After an evenly matched start, Russia took the upper hand from the middle of the first half, taking an 8:5 lead.
This advantage grew to five goals at half time, and for large parts of the second half, Trefilov´s women managed to stay ahead by this margin.
Thanks to Lacrabere, France managed to cut the deficit towards the end, but despite her goals and Olivier Krumbholz´s tactical cleverness, Les Bleus never got any closer than being one-goal down.
Netherlands vs Argentina 18:26 (9:13)
The Netherlands managed to avenge their 18:14 opening defeat against France and took their first Olympic win ever. But the match against Argentina was not the expected walk in the park.
Team Oranje were leading 7:0 after 11 minutes, but the South Americans managed to reduce the difference to just two goals several times, while playing six-against- four for several minutes.
During the second half, though, the Dutch were able to create a clear lead again, taking home an important and much needed win.