Due to sheer exhaustion after a feat with a happy ending, some German handball players even lacked the strength to smile. After the 35:34 (30:30, 17:14) win after extra time against Egypt, they threw up their arms in relief, but above all they thanked the outstanding goalkeeper Andreas Wolff.
The parades of the 31-year-old alone brought the DHB selection in Stockholm close to victory and they can now play for fifth place in the World Cup on Sunday.
"From the 45th minute we did everything wrong that can be done wrong. It was frightening what happened there," criticized captain Johannes Golla after a clear lead had been lost. "Andi kept us in the game in the first half. What he's doing there is of course world class."
This is one of the reasons why it was an easy victory until the beginning of the second half - until the DHB selection collapsed in the final phase. "I don't think we scored a single goal from behind in the last 20 minutes of the game," said national coach Alfred Gislason on ARD. "The players are pretty tired, I think."
In front of the desolate backdrop of 1604 spectators in the huge Stockholm Tele2 Arena, the DHB selection, for which Juri Knorr was the best thrower with seven goals, showed at least the hoped-for winning reaction to the clear quarter-final defeat (28:35) against France . The tournament concludes on Sunday against Norway.
DHB wants to extend with Gislason
From the bitter quarter-finals a few days earlier, there was no sign of the DHB selection. The German team got off to an excellent start, and once again that was largely down to Wolff. The goalkeeper saved a number of throws by the Egyptians from the first few seconds of the game. So Gislason's team pulled away quickly. Although the semi-finals of a major tournament were missed again, the German Handball Association wants to extend the contract with the 63-year-old, which expires in 2024, as soon as possible.
Already in the first round, Wolff had an outstanding rate of saved throws. With his saves, the 31-year-old laid the foundation for a good start, and the national coach was initially satisfied. "You're all doing very, very well," Gislason said of his players during a first-half break. Such words are not often heard from the Icelander, but in fact there was hardly anything to complain about until then.
Knorr is also convincing
Which, in addition to Wolff, was mainly due to Knorr this time. The director conducted the German game again with flying colors and also collected more goals and assists. The youngest in the German team has long been one of the best scorers in the tournament. At just 22 years old, he's in a league with world-class backcourt players like Mikkel Hansen and Kay Smits. What was also true, however, was that the rest of the team could not keep up with the performances of Wolff and Knorr over the long term.
So the Egyptians kept coming. And mostly when Wolff, for once, didn't show any top parades. That's why the German team was only three goals ahead at the break. But the defense improved, so Wolff experienced some relief. With eight goals, the German team led in the meantime, just under ten minutes before the end it was only two.
The Egyptians never gave up, exploited German weaknesses and even equalized in the closing stages of regular time and almost won when a crossbar hit. In the ten-minute extra playing time they were even ahead at 33:32. Julian Köster finally redeemed Gislason's protégés with the winning goal.