France on maximum points after big win
France started their Men’s EHF EURO 2022 main round campaign with a commanding win against The Netherlands, 34:24, which took their points tally to four — the maximum at this stage of the competition.
The Netherlands remain on zero points on the group I table, after carrying none with them from the preliminary round.
- France secured a decisive win in the end, but it was not an entirely one-sided game, as the Netherlands were level late in the first half — however, the second half was controlled entirely by the reigning Olympic champions and at 26:18 with 15 minutes to go, the points seemed very much decided
- France led 5:0 after five minutes and 8:4 at the 10-minute mark, as the Netherlands struggled to find sound shooting chances against France’s trademark defence
- goalkeeper Bart Ravensbergen was in top form for the Netherlands in the opening half. After a slow start in which his French counterpart Vincent Gerard was clearly leading the goalkeeper battle, Ravensbergen ended up finishing the first 30 minutes with more saves — eight to Gerard’s seven — and a higher rate, at 38 per cent
- the Netherlands’ improving defence, which they changed from 6-0 to 5-1, helped Ravensbergen’s performance and led the Dutch to come back to a level game at 12:12 in the 24th minute
- France ended the first half with three straight goals that gave them the lead at the break and immediately took a firmer advantage when the match resumed. Gerard, who was awarded Player of the Match, left the court after 50 minutes with 13 saves, while Aymeric Minne top scored with eight goals
Top scorer of EHF EURO 2022 versus second of all time
The Netherlands’ back Kay Smits is the clear top scorer of the EHF EURO 2022, with 36 goals at the conclusion of their fourth match in Hungary. In the round 3 match against Portugal, Smits passed the 50-goal mark at the EHF EURO — and became the first Dutch player to do so, as the side only made their EURO debut at the 2020 edition.
On the side of The Netherlands’ opponents on Thursday night was the second top scorer of all time at the Men’s EHF EURO, Nikola Karabatic, who is chasing Icelander Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson for that record. With three goals against the Netherlands, Karabatic hit a total of 270 scored in 66 EHF EURO games, while Sigurdsson retired with a tally of 288.
The way 24-year-old Smits is going, we may one day be seeing his name near the top of this all-time top scorer list as well.
We are really happy with our game. The Netherlands are a really good team, they deserved to be here and we had to pull off a great performance to beat them. Defensively, we had a good day, and apart from 15 minutes, we were superior.
I think we burnt a lot of energy trying to catch up with France in the first half, and they had more rotations after the break so they easily outran us. This is just the first game of the main round, we will have other chances to take some points, I’m sure.