Main Round Group II
Håkons Hall, Lillehammer (NOR)
Netherlands - Norway
Both joint-hosts of EHF EURO 2010 will meet in the semi-final on Saturday night after Norway beat the Netherlands comprehensively in Lillehammer.
The last EHF EURO 2010 match in Norway brought the final decision about who would be in the final four of the competition and it was a decision that was made very early and clearly here at the Hakons Hall in Lillehammer.
Joint-hosts Norway were unstoppable and punished the Netherlands, winning 35:13 (18:9) in the biggest margin of victory seen so far at EHF EURO 2010.
As a Norwegian group victory was impossible after the Swedish victory against Hungary early on in the day, the Norwegians finished second on equal points of eight with Sweden, but fall into second position thanks to their loss to the Swedes in their group match early on.
Second position means that there will be another Nordic clash at EHF EURO 2010, but this time it will be between the joint-hosts as Denmark face off against Norway in Herning on Saturday night.
Thanks to the Norwegian victory tonight France have secured third place in Group II and will also travel to Herning, for the 5/6th place match, but won´t know their opponents until the outcome of the last match day tomorrow which features Romania v Russia, Spain v Croatia and Denmark against Montenegro.
With the loss against Norway, the Netherlands finish fourth in the group ahead of Hungary in fifth and the Ukraine last.
Most of those watching and even maybe playing in this match knew that Norway would qualify before the match started as, due to the other results of Group II today, they could even lose with a six goal difference against the Netherlands and still qualify.
But the ”˜Norge Express´ were fast and merciless. The Netherlands did not know what had happened to them, with the score at 8:1 after just 13 minutes and then 13:3 after 21 minutes.
Even an early time-out could not bring the Dutch back to life, as Norway missed their first four penalty shots.
When the joint hosts relaxed a little on their huge lead they conceded four consecutive goals from the Netherlands to find the distance of only six at 14:8, but the joint-hosts changed to full speed again to go in to half time at 18:9, with the last Norwegian goal a spectacular ”˜in-flight´ strike scored by Gro Hammerseng.
Due to this half-time score the result of the match was already known as the Netherlands had to score 15 more goals than Norway in the second half to go through to the semi-finals.
To anyone watching who thought that the Norwegian high-speed train would slow down, was sorely mistaken as Norway sent their home fans away at the end of the match happy with outstanding goals and a high level handball in their last match on home soil before flying to Denmark on Friday morning on a charter flight together with Sweden, France and all the officials from Oslo to Aalborg.
Norwegian coach Thorir Hergeirsson changed several players, but the quality remained.
Easy goals from fast-breaks hurt the Dutch as the Scandinavians extended their lead to 15 (26:11) with a quarter of the match still remaining.
The only chance the Netherlands had to stop them was another time-out with the score at 29:11, as the ”˜La Ola´ echoed around the Hakons Hall.
Top scorer in this one-sided, but really entertaining match, was Heidi Löke for Norway with a total of six strikes, including four straight individual goals, to make the score 32:12.
The whole of the Norwegian squad, except for both goalkeepers and Mari Molid didn´t score and the Netherlands could only manage four strikes in the second half.
Norway now have two rest days ahead of the Saturday evening clash in the second semi-final of EHF EURO 2010 at the MCH Arena in Herning, Denmark.
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