Tender hope instead of a premature flight home: Germany's handball players kept their mini-chance of reaching the game for fifth place with a 32:28 (16:14) victory against Romania at the end of the main round of the European Championship.
Thanks to the third success in the finals, the DHB selection climbed to third place in the Group II table with 4:6 points, but had to hope for mistakes from the rivals Netherlands and Spain in the hours that followed.
In front of 300 spectators in Skopje, left winger Johanna Stockschläder with ten goals and backcourt players Alina Grijseels (8) and Emily Bölk (7) were the best throwers for the team of national coach Markus Gaugisch, which had no after-effects from the clear 21:29 defeat against Olympic champions France showed just 18 hours earlier.
Early change in goal
The measure had an effect. The 32-year-old, who plays for Râmnicu Vâlcea in Romania, gave the DHB team the much-needed security with a number of saves and was an important factor in the subsequent race to catch up. With a 7:0 run from 3:6 to 10:6, the DHB selection created a cushion from which they could subsequently draw despite a few mistakes. So the Romanians, against whom there was a 29:29 in the last European Championship test, were kept at a distance until the break.
After the change, the German team stayed focused and always had at least two goals in front. One reason for this was the good defensive work. Romania's superstar Cristina Neagu, who was the first handball player to break the record of 300 European Championship goals, was largely taken out of the game.
In the middle of the second half, the DHB team even pulled away by five goals at 26:21 (46th minute). Again and again there were ball wins, which were used for easy counter-attack hits. Accordingly, Gaugisch followed the committed performance of his protégés on the sidelines.
Even in the final phase, the German team did not allow itself to be weak and brought the deserved success safely over time. After that there was a short cheer - then the long wait began.