Romanian girls were all smiles after the buzzer declared the end of the match in Debrecen, they had defeated favorite Spain for 22-20 (9:14) and obtained their first victory in main round. On the other side of the court, disappointment filled the Spaniards, who missed to take a victory they had so thoroughly started to build on the first half.
It was undoubtedly a battle of goalkeepers, all four had a great performance in crucial moments of the match. Both Paula Ungureanu and Silvia Navarro started off with outstanding saves and stopped everything their defences didn’t. Despite her great performance, the Spanish goalkeeper had to leave the court after only 4:33 of play, when a ball hit her in the head. Ana Temprano jumped in to replace her and finished the first half with an impressive 57 percent of saves.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Pinedo caused damage through the Romanian defence and lifted the Spanish team on the scoreboard (4 goals on this half), as well as the always dangerous Marta Mangue and Nerea Pena, who’s playing a great tournament so far. The conducted by Jorge Galarza were still displaying their usual strong defence and went into the half time leading 9-14.
Things were very different on the second half as the Romanians started with the right foot and the Spaniards faced an even better Ungureanu. A very inspired Aurelia Bradeanu and Cristina Neagu were key to the comeback on one end of the court, while Baia Mare’s goalkeeper guaranteed a safe goal at the other end. The Romanian goalie, who had closed the first half with a superb 46 percent, kept on saving shots to finish with an outstanding 51 percent (20/39 saves) at the end of the 60 minutes. Among other actions, she denied Carmen Martin from the 7 meter line for the first time in the tournament; the CSM Bucuresti wing had scored 21 out of 21 penalty shots until today.
It took Spain 10:34 minutes to score on the second half, and unlike in the first part of the match, they were only able to score five goals on the last 30 minutes of the game. Ungureanu’s unforgettable performance was probably a frustrating fact for the Olympic bronze medalists who now see their possibilities to reach the semifinals jeopardized after Denmark’s victory over Hungary later today.
Neagu, who was top scorer of the game with 7 goals and now leads the top scorer table of the tournament (40 goals in five games), was awarded as MVP; (well deserved, but Ungureanu’s 51% performance was even more deserving), while Temprano, who also finished with an incredible percentage (46%, 16/35) 46 was MVP for Spain. Pinedo was top scorer for Spain with 5 goals in total.
Spain will now have to beat Denmark on Wednesday in order to advance to the semifinals, while Romania will close their European participation against Poland.
TEXT: LAURA AGENA