France survive second-half Danish rally to claim third EHF EURO bronze
For the third time in history France are leaving the EHF EURO with a bronze medal. In the third-place match at the EHF EURO 2016 in Scandinavium Arena, Gothenburg, the Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallists never lost the early lead created in the opening minutes and beat Denmark 25:22.
"If someone had told me in January that we will win Olympic silver and EURO bronze, I would have signed it immediately. But of course you cannot be sure that you have such a successful year," said left wing Siraba Dembele after the match.
"The girls deserve some beer tonight, and I will pay for it," said France coach Olivier Krumbholz.
The three-time European Championship winners from Denmark failed in their second attempt for the bronze medal after a 2010 defeat to Romania. Denmark's top scorer Stine Jorgensen shot her way to first place in the tournament ranking of best scorers with six goals, improving her total to 47 – one more than the previous leader Cristina Neagu.
Jorgensen also surpassed two other Danish legends – Ann Grette Norgaard (85) and Camilla Andersen (89) in the all-time EURO scoring ranking for her country as she is on 90 goals following this EURO. Only Rikke Skov has scored more goals for Denmark at the continental championships, with a total of 93.
"It was a good tournament, we are sad that we didn't get the medal, we managed to develop throughout the tournament, it was a huge step for us," summarised Jorgensen.
France were led mainly by two excellent goalkeeping performances from Amandine Leynaud and Laura Glauser, who combined for 18 saves. Leynaud saved at 53% in her 30 minutes on court and also received the best player of the match award, while Estelle Nze Minko was France's top scorer with five goals.
When Denmark scored their first goal of the game after almost seven minutes they were already in a five-goal hole following a handful of swift moves from Estelle Nze Minko. The French defence worked flawlessly and Leynaud collected 10 saves in the first half. With her 10th effort she even denied Denmark's top scorer Jorgensen from the penalty line.
France charged ahead to a 10:3 and 12:5 lead and, although the Danes took advantage of a power play and found more cracks in their opponents’ defence later in the first period, Olivier Krumbholz's team entered the second half with a five-goal cushion at 14:9.
Although Leynaud passed the baton in the French goal to Laura Glauser after the break, who was equally impressive, Klavs Bruun Jorgensen's side slowly but steady climbed back. Powered mainly by 20-year old talented right back Mette Tranborg, they closed in on France to a one-goal difference after 42 minutes.
France, however, never lost the narrow lead and five minutes before the final buzzer escaped to 22:18, withstanding the last-gasp push from Denmark in the final two minutes.
France recorded only their second win over Denmark at the EHF EURO in the fifth meeting.