The joy of the Norwegians after their victory at the Euro, against the Blue. JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP
The health fears that prevented Norway from co-organizing the Euro 2020 handball have not rubbed off on its national team. The teammates of goalkeeper Solje Solbert, in sparkling form (16 saves), won on Sunday, December 20, in the final of the European competition. By taking the best from France (22-20), the Norwegians won their eighth continental crown, and deprived the Blue of their dreams of a double.
Relive the final: France-Norway: the Norwegians dominate the Blue and win their eighth European title
If the outcome of the meeting did not go in the direction of Siraba Dembélé’s teammates, the French returned from Denmark after climbing to their fifth podium in the last six competitions, and erasing their premature elimination in the first round of the 2019 World Cup.
In this final between the two unbeaten teams in this competition, France started the game well. Leading in the first ten minutes, the Blue then found the gloves of the Norwegian goalkeeper, author of nine saves in the first period (47% success). Imperial Solje Solbert thwarted French attempts and allowed Norway to take a four-goal lead at the break.
Thanks to a high-flying performance in defense, brought by the entry – once again remarkable, after her performance in the semi-final – of Cleopatra Darleux in the blue cages in the second half (8 saves), the players of Olivier Krumbholz gradually reduced the gap, before equalizing through Grace Zaadi ten minutes from the end of the match (17-17).
Revenge at the Olympics?
But the leader of the France team, already sanctioned twice in the first period, was sanctioned with a red card four minutes from the end, for bad change. And at the end of a final mano to mano, the Norwegians have taken two steps ahead. The last parade, three seconds from the end, of Cléopâtre Darleux, did not change the final result. For the first time since Euro 2016, Norway, a powerful nation in women’s handball, is back on the top of a podium.
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“We constantly ran after the score, we started badly but we had an exceptional second half in defense with extraordinary goalkeepers throughout the match, noted the French coach, Olivier Krumbholz, at the microphone of BeIn Sports. We lacked things in attack, precision in shooting; maybe we weren’t sharp enough. It’s a shame, we had come back well and there is not much missing. “
No second title in a row for the Blue in Europe. For the first time since their world title in 2017, the French women are not holding any title. But in this period disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, Alexandra Lacrabère’s teammates will quickly have the opportunity to take their revenge.
From next summer – subject to the calendar being validated – the Tokyo Olympics (July 23 to August 8, 2021) could cause new games against the Norwegians. And the young Blue shoots will have taken a little more bottle. “These are young players who have the future ahead of them, recalled Krumbholz at the microphone of TF1. The Olympics are coming quickly, it’s a capital competition for us. We have a young team and we could be much better this summer if we find them. “
“There is something to be optimistic about, we have a mix of young and more experienced players, we have a lot of potential, concluded Estelle Nze Minko, voted best player of the tournament. We are disappointed but we still have a silver medal and a lot of hope for the future. Olympic gold? Yes that’s the goal. ” And the only title that the French women’s handball team lacks.
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