Montenegro win extra-time battle for bronze
10 years ago, Montenegro celebrated the title at the EHF EURO 2012. On Sunday night, they ended a long wait for the podium as they defeated France 27:25 after extra time to secure the bronze medal at the EHF EURO 2022.
The last time Montenegro beat France was at the 2012 Olympic Games, on their path to the silver medal. It is their first win against France at the EHF EURO and the third overall in 12 encounters.
For France, it is the first time since 2014 that they leave the EHF EURO without a medal and the first major international championship since 2019 where they did not take a piece of silverware.
- extra time was needed to find the winners, with Montenegro line player Tatjana Brnovic and back Djurdjina Jaukovic scoring the last goals to decide the medal
- despite appearing below form at times in the first half, France had a stronger start before the opening period unfolded mainly level. After the 10-minute mark, Montenegro pulled ahead by two three times, the latest at 11:9 in the 23rd minute
- Marta Batinovic came into the Montenegro goal in the 13th minute, with the score at 6:6, and had a strong impact with a rate over 45 per cent — reaching a peak of over 50 per cent — until inside the last 15 minutes of regular time. She earned the player of the match award
- in France’s goal, coach Olivier Krumbholz changed EHF EURO 2022 All-star Team goalkeeper Cleopatre Darleux, who made six saves in the first half, for 22-year-old Floriane Andre to start the second 30 minutes, but Darleux returned eight minutes into the half with the score at 16:13 for Montenegro. She finished with 10 saves
- after Montenegro opened the three-goal gap early in the second half, France came within one once, at 18:17, with 15 minutes to go, before finally closing the gap and equalising at 20:20 in the 56th
- with a penalty scored after the buzzer following a direct red card for Itana Grbic, Grace Zaadi sent the game to extra time
Farewell for a Montenegrin icon
Jovanka Radicevic is one of just six players to have passed the 200 career goal mark at Women’s EHF EURO events, has played the most EHF EURO matches for Montenegro (42) and, at the end of the EHF EURO 2022 bronze-medal game, is the second top scorer in the history of the tournament (214 goals). She has also won the title once, in 2012, and been part of the All-star Team three times, including this edition.
Radicevic played her last EHF EURO game on Sunday in Ljubljana, after a tournament she said could not have been a better way to say goodbye in terms of the locations of the matches. She started with the preliminary round in her home city Podgorica, moved on to Skopje where she played five seasons for Vardar and finished in the Slovenian capital where she currently plays with Krim.
And she ended her career with a perfect gift: her third medal overall for Montenegro.
Everything went wrong for us, from the beginning of the game. We lost balls we usually don't. I think today we missed too many things to reach the third place. Of course, I am very disappointed but we couldn't expect more with this way of playing.
Jovanka Radicevic, right wing of Montenegro: “This was the hardest and the best game in my career. It was hard to play the whole tournament, as I knew it is the last dance. The girls promised me this medal, and they gave it to me. They were my sisters. Thanks to the fans, thanks to Bojana for this most important victory in my career. In 2012 I won two medals, in 2022 I finish with another medal. This was the best last dance you can have.”
Djurdjina Jaukovic, left back of Montenegro: “My body is hard, I was ready for this fight, despite all fouls. France usually take the medals, now we got this. What we did with seven-eight players in the whole tournament, was a big thing for Montenegro, the whole Balkan and even the whole world of handball. We showed what is possible with character and hearts. This bronze medal is a gold medal for me, this is the biggest thing in my life. Today is the best day in my life.”
Beatrice Edwige, line player of France: “Congratulations Jovanka for an amazing career and this medal. You are a perfect example for many players, you deserve this happy-end, this comes from my heart. Montenegro deserved this victory, they led all the game. We were not good in defence, this is why we lost. Montenegro beat us by their energy. If we are not good in defence, we cannot win any game.”