The first match of the final round in Group B saw an exciting clash between France and Denmark.
Jon Katballe Christensen was the first scorer in the game, bringing Denmark one-goal lead. In the next five minutes, thanks to fantastic steals and fast reactions, France had a three-goal series which brought them up by two (3:1) and forced Denmark’s head coach Ole Damgaard to call a time out. France kept the lead steadily until the 15th minute and Denmark’s three-goal series which brought a tie (6:6). Until the end of the first half, both teams fought for a lead, but Jeppe Cieslak’s goal and a great reaction from Danish defence in last seconds brought Damgaard’s team one-goal advantage for a second half (11:12).
First five minutes of the second half were packed with action on both sides which resulted in six goals and France’s lead (15:14). After that, the rhythm of the game slowed down and both teams played carefully. Every goal was important and actions needed to result with a ball in the opponent’s net. Both teams’ goalkeepers, Charles Bolzinger and Svend Rughave played a key role in paving the way to the Main Round. France’s suspension eight minutes before the end left enough room for Denmark to score two goals, but the last five minutes, full of anticipation, were a peak of a real treat for the spectators in Koprivnica. A minute and a half before the final whistle Denmark had a two-goal lead and have secured a third victory (21:24) at M18 EHF EURO 2018.
Winners’ best player was Simon Pytlick and France’s was Jotham Mandiangu.
Top scorer for Denmark was Jeppe Cieslak with five goals and for France Sadou Ntanzi with also five.
Eric Quntin, France coach: A good game, a good game from my boys, I’m very proud of their fight. In the last 5-10 minutes, we maybe weren’t strong enough, but I’m proud of the game because it was a great experience. I think it was a good handball game, just like we like it, with a lot of fight.
Jotham Mandiagu, France player: It was a difficult game. Denmark and France are both very, very good teams. We’re a new team, we had many changes with the players. I hope Norway win today, so we progress to the next round. That’s how it is in the sport. We can only hope Norway get the win, and then we’ll take it from there.
Nielsen Ole Damgaard, Denmark coach: It was a very tough game, with well-played handball. France was very good in defense and we had a lot of trouble scoring goals. It was a very tough game for us to play. I think against Norway we had more flow in the attack, but today in defense we were good, I think. Today we also had a very good goalkeeper performance by Rughave.
Simon Pytlick, Denmark player: We had great chemistry, we’re a good playing team. We stay together the whole game. Overall, it was a very tough game to play, but we managed to stay together and we’re walking away with a win and onto the next round.
Group B, Round 3:
France – Denmark 21:24 (11:12)