Germany's handball players danced exuberantly across the parquet in a cheering circle after their shocking victory against Romania. With the hard-fought 24:22 (9:12) at the start of the main round, national coach Markus Gaugisch's team continued its impressive run of success at the World Cup in Scandinavia and took a big step towards the quarter-finals.
"That was a great mental performance. Compliments to the girls," praised Gaugisch after the final whistle and added with a view to the upcoming tasks: "Of course that gives us further self-confidence and helps us to develop our own faith."
With a victory on Saturday over Serbia, the DHB selection around the outstanding goalkeeper Katharina Filter can already make it into the round of the top eight. “We now have the first match point to achieve our minimum goal,” said co-captain Emily Bölk. The main round concludes next Monday against title contenders and co-hosts Denmark. The best two in the group qualify for the quarterfinals.
Bölk “mega happy”, Gaugisch relieved
With Filter's strong performance, who parried 16 throws from the Romanian team, Antje Döll and Annika Lott were the best throwers in the German team on their 24th birthday with four goals each. "I'm super happy. We've shown that we can win even close games," said Bölk happily.
The national coach was also relieved after the fourth win in the fourth game, although it didn't look like it at first. "We had a difficult time in the first half, but we stayed calm. In the second half we finally played our tempo game, positioned ourselves well on the field and, especially in defense, went into full duels," analyzed Gaugisch.
Gaugisch described the game as a “crucial point game”. "If Romania loses this game, they are usually gone. And if we shake off Romania, we have a good chance of getting into the top two," said the 49-year-old before kick-off. At the same time, he warned of "the dangerous axis" around four-time world handball player Cristina Neagu in the backcourt and pivot Crina Pintea - and rightly so, as it turned out.
Initial phase characterized by carelessness
Around 2,500 spectators in Herning saw the “absolute fight” that Bölk had predicted right from the start. The German selection lacked the sovereignty of the gala game against Poland (33:17). Carelessness characterized the initial phase, in which the DHB team quickly fell behind by three goals.
Romania played anything but outstanding, but benefited from Germany's error-prone game. Xenia Smits and birthday girl Annika Lott missed the equalizer while standing alone. Alina Grijseels missed two seven-meter penalties against Romania's strong goalkeeper in the first half - and coach Gaugisch called in vain on the sidelines for "more movement" on the offensive.
Filter is in top form after the break
After the break, World Cup debutant Viola Leuchter brought more impetus to the attacking game and caused celebration on the German bench with two early goals. Again the DHB team had several chances to equalize - again they made hair-raising mistakes. And yet in the 42nd minute they took the lead again for the first time since the 1-0 lead (16:15).
Filter was now at his best between the posts and saved one throw after the other. For the first time, there were major gaps in the Romanian defense. Ten minutes before the end of the game, the DHB squad suddenly led by five goals (22:17). Germany was now more compact at the back and brought the important victory over time.