Norway, Spain, Korea and Montenegro reach women’s semi-finalsArticle
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Surprisingly Russia and France fail in the Olympic quarter-finals

Norway, Spain, Korea and Montenegro reach women’s semi-finals

Norway v Korea (17:00 hrs local time) and Spain v Montenegro (20:30 hrs. local time) are the fixtures for the women’s Olympics semi-finals on Thursday in the Basketball Arena in London after the quarter-finals had been played on Tuesday in the Copper Box.

Surprisingly both winners of the preliminary round groups – Brazil and France – missed the semi-finals after losing their matches against Norway and Montenegro.

Three teams of preliminary round group B – Norway, Korea and Spain - made their way among the top four, as France as one of the biggest gold favourites missed the semis.

Montenegro are the first ever Olympic debutant to go that far, as Korea will play their eighth semi-final in their eighth Olympic Games.

Brazil 19 v 21 Norway

Norway overturned a six-goal deficit to beat the Brazilians who shed tears after missing the chance of a first semi-final on the world stage. After the Pan Americans led by 15-9, the defending champions showed their real face for the first time at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

In the 53rd minute they had broken the spell, equalising at 18-18. When Linn-Kristin Rigelhuth Koren (NOR), who scored five goals overall, hit the net to make it 19-18. The goal completed a series of 10-3 strikes in favour of Norway.

Brazil were deflated, knowing they had let the biggest opportunity of their handball careers slip through their fingers, while Norway on Thursday will face the same semi-final opponent as in 2008 when they beat Korea by one goal.

Spain 25 v 22 Croatia

For the first time ever Spanish women have reached an Olympic semi-final.

Debutants Croatia were on the same level with their opponents before they lost their rhythm after their key player, Andrea Penezi (CRO), hurt her ankle in the middle of the second half. When she returned from treatment, 12 minutes later, her team was trailing 22-19 and could not reduce the gap.

Top scorers were Elisabeth Pinedo (ESP) with seven goals and Miranda Tatari (CRO) with five goals.

Russia 23 v 24 Republic of Korea

The remarkable story of Korean success continues. Thanks to their thrilling and emotional quarter-final victory, the Asian champions reached the semi-final of the Olympic Games for the eighth time in their eighth participation.

Goalkeeper Ju Hui (KOR) was outstanding, saving four of the last five Russian shots in the battle of the successful smallest against the unlucky tallest team of the competition. Russia, the Beijing 2008 silver medallists, were down by five goals in the 23rd minute, then equalised at 15-15 and 22-22. But thanks to a double strike and the final saves of Ju (KOR), Korea remained in the lead until the final buzzer.

France 22 v 23 Montenegro

A penalty goal of Katarina Bulatovic (MNE) with the final whistle caused the biggest sensation of the London 2012 handball competition until now. The favoured French team missed too many chances in the end to win the match despite the great saves of their goalkeeper Amandine Leynaud (FRA). Her counterpart Sonja Barjaktarovic (MNE) was the big match winner for the Balkan team, which became the first ever Olympic handball debutant to reach the semi-final.

The game was tight for 60 minutes and even a three-goal lead in the middle of the second half did not stop the French nervousness. In contrast, Montenegro took their first lead at 22-21 before Bulatovic made their dream come true. Like in 2008 in Beijing, when they were beaten by Russia after two extra-times, France missed the semi-final.

TEXT: Björn Pazen