Miracle comeback sees France snatch semi-final spot
France had the lead when it counted in the big decider on Wednesday night, booking the last EHF EURO 2022 semi-final berth as they defeated Denmark 30:29 after trailing the entire game. The only time France held the lead was after Dika Mem struck for the final score in the 59th minute, after Denmark had looked very much on the way to a comfortable win.
The result was a devastating blow for Iceland, who had the semi-final ticket within reach until late in the game, as a win for Denmark would have taken the Nordic team to the penultimate stage for the first time since 2010. But France fought back from a five-goal deficit with 15 minutes to go and clinched an unbelievable win to book their seventh EHF EURO semi-final and end Iceland’s dream.
With eight points alongside Denmark, for whom it was the first defeat at the EURO, France not only proceed to the medal round but do so as group winners. France will therefore meet Sweden in the semi-final, while Denmark take on defending title holders Spain.
- five months ago, France won the Olympic final against Denmark. Three years ago, Denmark won the World Championship semi-final against France. Four years ago, France won the EHF EURO bronze-medal game against Denmark. On Wednesday night, France did it again as the two powerhouses met for yet another crunch match
- Denmark had the lead from the opening goal on until France mounted a comeback from a five-goal distance, taking the lead for the first time in the 59th minute, 30:29, thanks to Dika Mem’s eighth goal
- the opening half was something of a nightmare for France, with just one save between both Vincent Gerard and Wesley Pardin and a clear deficit created against them at the break
- at half-time, France’s shooting accuracy stood at 48 per cent while Denmark recorded 77 per cent, with the Scandinavian side’s goalkeeper Kevin Møller saving eight shots at 40 per cent. Denmark appeared to hold all the momentum until the closing stages
- overall, it is France’s 12th victory against Denmark, while Denmark have won seven times in official matches between the two. Denmark came very close to their first EHF EURO victory against France but in the end France kept their perfect record against the Scandinavian side in this competition, extending it to five wins
The Holm and Kirkeløkke show
Mikkel Hansen and Mathias Gidsel are clear and away Denmark’s top scorers and assist makers, but with both off the start list and watching from the stands, it was the chance for two other backs to step up and shine. And Jacob Holm and Niclas Kirkeløkke delivered big time.
The two finished the opening half with six goals apiece — all from the field — and went on to final tallies of nine for Holm and 10 for Kirkeløkke, with Holm earning the Player of the Match.
No doubt Hansen and Gidsel will be very important in the medal round, but it is clear if either should somehow drop their game, there are very solid backups ready to go.
It was very tough game. We started very badly. Defensively, we were not at the level we wanted to be. We carried this gap all through the game, but our motivation to pursue our adventure was high. The energy was on our side in the last minutes because we wanted to go in the semi-finals. It was a very tough game against Denmark, an amazing side, but I’m proud of my team tonight.
We are very disappointed right now. We played a very good match until minute 48. A lot of good players playing very good, Jacob Holm was amazing, our defence was also good. But in the end, we missed some good opportunities, Vincent Gerard made some important saves. Our players were too far away from each other in defence and we didn’t manage to stop Dika Mem. We made too many mistakes to win that game.