Spain and Angola clinch last quarter-final spot
August 15, 2016
Russia remained the only undefeated team in the women´s group phase. Spain and Angola booked the last two tickets for the quarter-finals.
By Peter Bruun
MATCH OF THE DAY
Norway vs Romania (14:13)
The match was a remake of the semi-final at the 2015 World Championship in Denmark last December, when Norway won 35:33 and later moved on to win the title.
Norway were already qualified for the quarter-final, but still wanted to win the group, while Romania needed a victory in order to stay in the tournament.
A well-played and equal first half showed that Romania are definitely back at their normal performance level after a rather disappointing start in the tournament.
Norway were in the lead most of the time, but never by more than two goals.
Knowing, that this game was their last chance to decide their own fate in the competition, Romania managed to keep up with the Norwegians all the way, led on by a brilliant and hard-shooting Cristina Neagu.
However, Romania might have recorded a better score in the first 30 minutes, if their Swedish coach, Tomas Ryde, would have had the courage to push his defense a bit more forward, as many of the Norwegian goals were scored from seven and eight meters.
As the second half progressed, Romania seemed to have to let go. A well -playing Norwegian team were simply too fast for and the squad of coach Ryde. Loke & Co. went ahead by four goals, as an increasingly tired Romanian team made more and more technical mistakes.
Similar errors towards the end of the match, combined with Romanian willpower brought Ryde´s team back into the game and Neagu & Co. scored the last three goals, reducing a four-goal deficit to just one.
Neagu´s penalty goal, settled the score at 28:27 with only seven seconds left.
All Romania could do after this loss was to await the outcome of the match between Spain and Angola.
As it turned out, Spain won and Romania were out.
Player of the Match
Even though she was on the losing side, Cristina Neagu receives the honors. Not only did the 28-year-old, left back score 11 goals. She also made them look so simple and elegant; it is a particular pleasure to watch her shoot.
Norway proved once again, that they have a complete team, no matter which players Thorir Hergeirsson picks for his lineup.
Of course, Norway’s job was made so much easier, by the fact that they were allowed to shoot from short distance. The team certainly looks to be on the right track for another gold medal, with Russia being their strongest rival.
The Norwegians are the obvious favorite in the Scandinavian derby against Sweden in the quarter-final.
Romania came to realize that their poor start in the tournament – and a disastrous performance against Angola in particular – cost them dearly.
Other matches in Group A
Montenegro vs Brazil 23:29 (10:12)
While Brazil were playing to defend their first place in the group, Montenegro were already sure to leave the tournament after the match.
The Montenegrins only had their honor at stake – and (maybe) the desire to provide Dragan Adzic a decent farewell as national coach – if he sticks to his decision to stepping down – as he allegedly announced after the defeat against Norway.
However, Montenegro finished the tournament with a fifth straight loss. Brazil won Group A after leading throughout the match.
Spain vs Angola 26:22 (13:12)
All energy seems to have left Angola after their impressive start in the competition, winning against Romania and Montenegro.
Still, the African crew was able to hang with Spain in their last group match for quite some time without threatening the final outcome. They could afford a defeat and still make it to the quarter-finals courtesy to Norway´s victoy against Romania earlier in the evening.
Sweden vs France 25:27 (13:15)
Everything was decided in this group with regards to the quarter-finals, only the placements were at stake.
The trick was to avoid Norway in the round of “last-eight”, and as France finished second, they escaped a premature encounter with the Scandinavian handball powerhouse.
There never was any doubt about the final result, as Olivier Krumbholz´s team was leading all the way, and most of the time by five-goals.
Netherlands vs Russia 34:38 (16:17)
Russia were assured of winning the group, but Evgenij Trefilov would not be Evgeniji Trefilov, if he allowed his women to relax.
Still, we saw the charismatic Russian coach sitting down on the bench – at least for a while – in the second half A rather unusual sight, but it did not take long before Trefilov was up and shouting again.
In the end, he could be content. After trailing for parts of the first half, his crew won the highest-scoring match of the tournament so far.
Argentina vs South Korea 22:28 (12:16)
For the first time, Korea did not make it to the knockout stage at an Olympic tournament – but at least, they bowed out with a win, leaving last place in the group to Argentina.
The winner of Group A, Brazil , will take on World Championship silver medalist, Netherlands, while Group B winner, Russia, are up against the biggest surprise of the tournament – Angola.
A Scandinavian derby is coming up between Norway and Sweden, while Spain and France are meeting in the other quarter-final.