Stupendous comeback sees Sweden to semi-finals
When Sander Sagosen scored to make it a four-goal game for Norway with six minutes to go, everything seemed lost for Sweden. One of the greatest comebacks in the history of the EHF EURO was, however, on its way, as Sweden bounced back to finish the game with a 5:0 unanswered run to take a 24:23 win.
It was a victory that sealed the second semi-finals berth in three editions of the EHF EURO for Sweden, the team with the largest number of titles in history, while Norway will lament their collapse for months to come
Sweden vs Norway 24:23 (9:14)
- Norway boasted a 4:0 run between the 22nd and the 27th minute to break the game wide open, but Sweden never backed down, first cutting the gap to only one goal in the 46th minute at 17:18, preparing to finish the match in emphatic fashion
- the second-best defence in the competition until this point, with 23.1 goals conceded per game, stopped Norway’s attack in the last six minutes and went on a 5:0 scoring run. 21-year-old right wing Valter Chrintz converted the decisive penalty with 11 seconds to go in the game
- goalkeeper Peter Johannesson, who replaced captain Andreas Palicka, out due to a Covid-19 positive test, was Sweden’s main weapon in the second half. He saved nine shots, for a 50 per cent save efficiency
- Sweden will face the winner of group I in the semi-finals, either Denmark, France or Iceland, while Norway also travel to Budapest to play the 5/6 placement match with the third-placed team from group I
- although Spain and Sweden both ended the main round with eight points, Spain finish top in the group after their 32:28 win against Sweden in the preliminary round
Total collapse for Norway
They always say defence wins titles and it was clear once again in Bratislava on Tuesday evening, as Sweden stopped the best attack in the competition, Norway, in their tracks. Norway boasted a 33.1 scored goals per game average in the first six matches in the competition, but could only muster nine in the second half of this game. Their efficiency dipped from 70 per cent at the break to 57 per cent at the end of the match as Sweden amped up their defensive effort.
It was not, however, a win for the faint of heart. Sweden missed three penalties and their attacks were slow and quite predictable, but the Grundfos Player of the Match, Jim Gottfridsson, who was also the MVP of the EHF EURO 2018, directed the attacks with surgical precision, finishing the game with four goals and eight assists.
For Sweden, it is their second semi-finals berth in three editions, after a drought stretching from 2002 to 2018. But it was also a triumph for Norwegian-born coach Glenn Solberg, who led Sweden to victory against his former colleague Christian Berge.
We never gave up, I was so inspired by our team. We had some do-or-die-matches like this before, but that one was special, it was against Norway and it was for a ticket to a semi-final. In the last five minutes we were fighting like animals for each other, we never stopped fighting, then you win a match like this one.
Sweden played a good game, in some key moments we started to miss our chances, we made some errors in counter attacks, and had weak moments in the second half. Sweden deserved to win.