The loud cheer of 14,000 homefans dressing in red, weren’t enough to stop the astonishing ‘Experts’ on their way to their third EHF Euro gold tonight in Jyske Bank Boxen.
This generation of French players seems to have expertized in one more thing aside from winning almost anything that’s in front of them; it is to bring the host nation to tears, by defeating them in the finals. What the ‘Experts’ have done in Croatia four year ago was an outstanding achievement, but to win with a nine-goal difference(41:32)in the final against the Danes, at fully packed Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning, well, that takes something very special.
The match was played somewhat absent-minded in defense as France managed to score 41 goals, and one of the best goalkeepers in world, subsequently named the best keeper of the championship, NickalsLandin had a match to forget tonight at Jyske Bank Boxen.
The incisive France punished the unexpectedly slow start from the Danish team, as the defending champions were seven minutes without a goal mid-way through the first half when Valentin Porte set the score at 4:13.Toft Hansen and Mollgaard Jensen brought two back for their team, but Porte continued on the previously excellent game opening from Narcisse and Guigou. The French team returned from their time-out to set the 10-goal lead, their first in the match, as Porte struck again for 7:17 with ten minutes remaining in the first half.Denmark tried to find their defensive balance with Green Krejberg replacingNicklasLandin who is nowhere to be found. The only thing that seemed to be working for the Danish team was the ever-present goal-scoring ability of Mikkel Hansen, with the PSG players seeming very much in the mood for this match lowering the difference to six goals in the last minute. With the last five minutes of the first half very quiet with the Danes able only to get the difference down to seven goals, after Porte scored with the sound of the buzzer, the teams want for a break with the score 16:23.
The beginning of the second half saw the same-old from the Danes, with Hansen’s individual quality keeping them hanging by a thread in this match. Omeyer made his presence noticeable mid-way through the second half, with the 37-year old making a number of saves to ad to the frustration of the Danish team. Mollergaard had a period of struggle in which he made a turnover, conceded a penalty and received a suspension, as Narcisse continued on his team’s run of goals, to make it 25:35, and a dangerous score line going into the last ten minutes of the match with ‘Les Bleus’ cruising to victory. Luc Abalo scored his signature shot from the right-back position, for yet another double-digit lead for France at 28:38, with seven minutes to play and the winner almost already decided. There was nothing to play for in the last five minutes as the local JesperNoddesboscored a brace for 31:39, but the high amount of goals conceded by the Danish team, was impossible to match in the dying minutes. Noddesbo completed his 3:0 series upon the strong will of the Dane, but French players were already celebrating as Nyokas sets the final score to 32:41 (the highest ever scored in the Euro Final) assisted by the experienced Jerome Fernandez, who may also be retiring after this gold medal in Denmark. No better way to mark the return to the Euro top for ‘Les Experts’ than winning the EHF Euro trophy in the final against Denmark, with less than a year before the World championship in Qatar, and counting down to the Olympic games in Rio 2016, where they will be defending their gold. This will also mark the testimonial match for the successful Danish coach Ulrich Wilbek, who will now assume the role of the Danish team manager, replaced by the Icelandic coach GudmundurGudmudsson, to take the Danish team onto new heights.
TEXT: NEMANJA SAVIC