The fifth-place play-off at the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 was a tightly contested battle as Romania claimed a 23:22 win with a last-second fast break goal from Cristina Zamfir. Zamfir, who began the match with some big shoes to fill as she replaced the tournament’s lead scorer Cristina Neagu on the left back position, finished as the top scorer of the match with six goals.
The fifth-place finish is Romania’s best ranking since they won the bronze medal in 2010.
"It was the last game and we really desired to close this tournament with a win. I'm glad we have done it because to finish on the fifth place is still better than sixth," said Oana Manea, playing her 200th international for Romania, as Germany's Svenja Huber added: "This defeat was a bitter one. It was a match of two teams who narrowly missed the semi-finals and we both wanted to win. We were on a right track, but then lost it in the last seconds what made it so hard for us."
The first half of the placement match was something like a double duel – on one hand between goalkeepers Denisa Dedu for Romania and Germany’s Clara Woltering, which Dedu won in the first half with seven saves to Woltering’s six. On the other hand, Zamfir netted five of her goals in the first 30 minutes to have one more strike in her tally compared to Huber.
The match was always close, with the biggest margin standing at two goals when Germany were ahead 4:2 before the EURO 2010 bronze medallists turned the tide. At the half-time buzzer the score was level again at 11:11.
Though Romania forged ahead to their first three-goal advantage at 15:12 soon after the break, the game returned to one-for-one as Germany netted three unanswered goals. After a somewhat slow start both sides began to accelerate in their seventh and final match of the tournament.
As Huber and Kim Naidziniavicius missed two consecutive penalty shots against Yuliya Dumanska in her debut game at a major international tournament, Germany lost a chance for an earlier decision. But as Romania also found difficulty against Woltering, the match became a true thriller in the last minutes.
With her first goal in the match, Lone Fischer netted for 22:21 and 50 seconds before the end, Spanish-born Romanian coach Ambros Martin took his final time-out. Cristina Laslo grabbed the chance, levelling the result again and prompting an immediate time-out from Germany.
Kerstin Wohlbold caused a turnover in the last German attack and Zamfir stole the ball, running a counter attack that ended with her scoring the game-winning goal.
However, as both Zamfir and Woltering were injured in the final exchange, the match ended with a bitter taste – though it was sweetened somewhat as Romanian fans gave a big hand to the injured German goalkeeper.
The German Handball Federation that Woltering was treated for a suspected concussion.
— #ehfeuro2016 (@EHFEURO) December 16, 2016