After losing their Group C opener against Sweden 27:25 last night, Germany got their first victory of EHF EURO 2010 with a 30:27 (17:18) victory over the Netherlands here at the Arena Larvik, Larvik, Norway.
Both teams now find themselves equal on points, and favourites to reach the Main Round ahead of the Ukranians who are yet to register any points.
This clash of the European neighbours saw a tough 60 minute fight from both sides with the more powerful Germans winning through in the end.
The first half was a brilliant example of full-speed handball from two attack-minded teams with Germany starting slightly better than their oponents, opening a 6:2 lead despite the fact their influential left-wing Nadine Härdter was missing due to a hip injury sustained in the Sweden match and the surprise of Grit Jurack sitting on the bench for the whole first half.
But the Netherlands weren´t quiet for long, finding their rhythm quickly and not distracted by the defecit. They tied the game at 7:7 and then subsequently took the lead (8:7) in the 14th minute of this rollercoaster.
Germany responded to going behind by changing their goalkeeper from Katja Schülke to Clara Woltering which stabilised their defence, but Woltering was powerless to stop Dutch playmaker Diane Lamein, who plays her club handball for German club Oldenburg, scoring five goals in the first 15 minutes.
Later on in the match another one of the eleven Dutch players to play their club handball in Germany, Laura van der Heijden, brought the Netherlands back in contention for the victory with her goals and ended up as the top-scorer in the match with seven strikes, the same number as German players Anna Loerper and Sabrina Richter.
The lead switched backwards and forwards constantly up to the half time break, first with Germany taking a 14:12 lead thanks to the fifth goal of right-wing Sabrina Richter, and then with the Netherlands taking the lead at 18:17 going into the break.
The teams still couldn´t be separated in the second half as the game became more physical, with the Dutch suffering several suspensions, and more emotional as the importance of a good result for both teams was apparent.
The tension meant that both sides made a number of mistakes in the final third of the match with the high standard of play throughout the first half not replicated throughout the second period.
With a lack of power and concentration, mostly in attack, the young Dutch side missed opportunities which the Germans failed to capitalise on, missing several of their own chances to wrap up the game with time reamining, but they weren´t entirely to blame as Dutch goalkeeper Marieke van der Wal made some impressive saves.
However, her counterpart in the German goal, Sabine Englert, was the decisive factor in the match as her side found themselves 26:23 in front in the 53rd minute and then could relax at 30:26 up in the 56th minute, thanks to a seventh strike by Loerper.
Group C, Arena Larvik, Larvik (NOR)
Netherlands - Germany 27:30 (18:17)
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