Russia set to face Hungary in W19 EHF EURO 2021 final
On Friday evening, Celje played host to two semi-finals at the W19 EHF EURO in Slovenia. In the first semi-final, Russia edged past France, 25:24, in a match where the outcome was uncertain until Julija Baeva scored for Russia inside the final minute.
The second semi-final saw Hungary beat Sweden 33:26 in a high-scoring match that showcased two of the best attacking W19 teams in Europe.
Sunday's final between Russia and Hungary will be shown live on EHFTV.com at 14:30 CEST – and the bronze medal match featuring France and Sweden will throw-off at 12:00 CEST.
- Russia won their third consecutive match at the championship
- Julija Baeva scored five goals for Russia, but Sarah Bouktit finished as the top scorer of the match with six goals for France
- Russia goalkeeper Veronika Chipula shone in the second half and made a total of 11 saves in the match
With a place in the W19 EHF EURO 2021 final at stake, it was perhaps unsurprising that both teams made a somewhat tentative start in attack. Russia waited five-and a-half minutes for their first goal of the match, which was scored by Ekaterina Skivko, but there was little damage done as France only led 2:0.
Although no more than one goal separated the teams from the 9th minute until the end of the first half, Russia did not hold the lead in the match until right back Julija Baeva scored in the 29th minute. As Sarah Bouktit scored her fourth goal of the first half for France 30 seconds before the break, the half-time score was locked at 13:13.
In the first 11 minutes of the second half, Russia goalkeeper Veronika Chipula made six saves as France only scored once. When Chipula produced another outstanding stop in the 46th minute, denying Kiara Tshimanga's breakthrough effort, Russia were ahead 20:17 and seemingly on course for victory.
However, in the closing stages, Lena Grandveau reduced Russia's lead to one goal, 24:23, and Russia needed another goal from their top scorer, Julija Baeva, with 31 seconds left to be assured of their place in the final.
- with six wins from six matches, Hungary still have a 100 per cent record at the W19 EHF EURO 2021
- Hungary have scored more than 30 goals in four of their six matches
- Hungary's Luca Farago netted nine times: Sweden's Tyra Axnér scored eight goals
If the first semi-final began with both teams needing time to find their rhythm in attack, Hungary and Sweden certainly provided a contrast for viewers. In the opening 10 minutes, both teams produced fast-paced handball as they traded goal for goal.
Something had to give – and it did when Hungary stormed into a 13:7 lead after 17 minutes on the back of a 6:1 run. During this period, Luca Farago scored three times for Hungary and Petra Koronczai converted two penalties.
However, with Tyra Axnér and Thea Blomst finding their scoring form shortly before half-time, Sweden reduced Hungary's advantage to one at the break. At the start of the second half, Sweden reclaimed the lead – but that only seemed to spark Hungary's Anna Kukely into life.
In the final 20 minutes, Kukely scored six times for Hungary as they grew their advantage to seven goals, 33:26, at the end of the match. Kukely was named as the best player of the match for Hungary, while Tyra Axnér collected the award for Sweden.
Cross matches 5-8
Denmark vs Croatia 24:22 (12:12)
Romania vs Germany 28:24 (13:11)
Cross matches 9-12
Switzerland vs Norway 32:33 (15:17)
Czech Republic vs Slovakia 29:25 (10:11)
Cross matches 13-16
Slovenia vs Austria 25:27 (15:12)
I am very happy and pleased. I think we will play Hungary in the finals and we will win. After the first half when the French team played a bit better, we regrouped. Our mindset was that we have to win the game.