Hungary and Netherlands claim gold at YAC 17 EHF Beach Handball EURO
Hungary were the main gold candidates in both events of the YAC 17 EHF Beach Handball EURO 2023 in Izmir; the men’s team lived up to that billing and defeated Spain 2:0 in the final, but the women’s team – which had not dropped a set coming into their final – lost 2:1 against Netherlands after a thrilling shootout. Bronze went to Sweden in both events.
It was a matter of ‘save the best for last’ on Sunday afternoon in Izmir as the women’s final provided the YAC 17 EHF Beach Handball EURO 2023 with a breath-taking ending. Netherlands and Hungary shared the first two sets, leaving the decision about the gold medal to an enthralling shootout.
The first seven shooters on each side made no mistakes, before Netherlands were the first who failed to convert an attempt. However, with the title just a single point away, Hungary then suddenly missed as well. And after Esmee Stege had put the Dutch in front again, their defender Nienke Slippens blocked the next Hungarian shot by Krisztina Décsei, the MVP of the women's event, to help Netherlands win the shootout 15:13 – and thus the European title.
An hour earlier in the men’s final, Hungary had defeated Spain 2:0 in two close sets (21:20, 26:23), with the tournament's MVP Bulcsú Hován (18 points) and Balázs Hajdú (14) their leading scorers. Spain’s Max Tejedor Sierra also scored 14 points.
In the women’s bronze medal match, Sweden defeated Spain 2:1; in the men’s event Sweden beat Germany 2:0 for bronze.
- Hungary claim their fifth YAC EHF Beach Handball EURO gold, after earlier triumphs in 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2022.
- Hungary lost to Sweden and Germany in the preliminary round and only just made it out of their group as one of the best third-ranked teams, but did not drop a single set afterwards in the quarter-final (2:0 against Croatia), the semi-final (2:0 against Sweden), or the final (2:0 against Spain).
- It is the third year in a row that former two-time winners Spain (2016, 2017) lose the final – in 2021 against Sweden, in 2022 and 2023 against Hungary.
- Bronze marks Sweden’s second medal at this level, after they won the title in 2021.
- Hungary vs Sweden 2:0 (22:20, 22:16)
- Spain vs Germany 2:0 (22:18, 19:17)
- Bronze medal match:
- Sweden vs Germany 2:0 (20:16, 21:20)
- Hungary vs Spain 2:0 (21:20, 26:23)
- Julius Mellqvist has scored 42 points in Sweden’s two matches on Sunday and raises his tally for the tournament to 129, overtaking Croatia’s Simun Jerkan, who previously led the top scorers standings and finishes second with 114 points.
- Final standings:
- gold: Hungary
- silver: Spain
- bronze: Sweden
- 4th: Germany
- 5th: Norway
- 6th: Croatia
- 7th: France
- 8th: Czech Republic
- Netherlands lift the trophy for a third time, after their back-to-back triumphs in 2016 and 2017, as they become the only team across both genders to win all their matches in Izmir.
- Netherlands have been to at least the semi-finals in all six editions of the YAC EHF Beach handball EURO since 2016.
- Hungary won nine titles in the past – including the last two editions – and looked set for gold No. 10, as they won all their matches 2:0 and led Netherlands 1:0 in the final; at 13:13 in the decisive shootout, they failed to score a match point.
- Sweden’s bronze is their first medal at this level – even more so, they had not been to the semi-finals before.
- Netherlands vs Sweden 2:0 (22:14, 15:8)
- Spain vs Hungary 0:2 (14:16, 10:16)
- Bronze medal match:
- Sweden vs Spain 2:1 (15:14, 20:22, 7:4)
- Netherlands vs Hungary 2:1 (20:22, 25:20, 15:13)
- Norway’s Mathilde Fjelddalen becomes the top scorer of the women’s competition with 112 points, edging out Lucía Martínez of Spain, who finishes on 111. Germany’s Pauline Borrmann, who led after the first three days, ends in third on 102 points.
- Final standings:
- Gold: Netherlands
- Silver: Hungary
- Bronze: Sweden
- 4th: Spain
- 5th: Ukraine
- 6th: Norway
- 7th: Germany
- 8th: Portugal
YAC 17 EHF Beach Handball EURO 2023 All-star Teams
- MVP: Bulcsú Hován (HUN)
- Goalkeeper: Jan Terihaj (CRO)
- Defender: Jan Duran Esteban (ESP)
- Fair Play Team: Netherlands
- Top Scorer: Julius Mellqvist (SWE) – 129 points
- MVP: Krisztina Décsei (HUN)
- Goalkeeper Mia Tvedte Johannessen (NOR)
- Defender: Adriana Jiménez Velasco (ESP)
- Fair Play Team: Switzerland
- Top Scorer: Mathilde Aas Fjelddalen (NOR) – 112 points
photos © Uros Hocevar, Jure Erzen / kolektiff