France to host EHF EURO 2018 as world championsArticle
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FINAL REVIEW: In a thrilling climax to the World Championship, France beat defending champions Norway 23:21 to claim their second world title

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France to host EHF EURO 2018 as world champions

The French national women’s team have completed a set of medals from major championships in just 16 months’ time.

After taking silver at the 2016 Olympic Games and bronze at the EHF EURO 2016, France added the gold medal at the Women’s IHF World Championship 2017 in Germany on Sunday night (17 December).

So when France are hosting the Women’s EHF EURO 2018 next year, they will be doing so as the reigning world champions.

In the sold-out Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, coach Olivier Krumbholz’s team edged Norway 23:21 in a tense final, denying the defending champions a record-equalling fourth world title.

It was France’s second world title after also taking the crown in 2003. They had played Norway in World Championship finals twice before, in 1999 and 2011, but lost both times.

The French women’s triumph came less than 11 months after the French men also captured the world title after seeing off Norway in the final.

France strongest side in exciting finish

After their huge wins over Olympic champions Russia in the quarter-finals and 2015 silver medallists Netherlands in the semis, in-form Norway looked on course to successfully defend their world title.

In the opening quarter of the final, coach Thorir Hergeirsson’s team carved out a 7:4 lead, but it was the only time in the match they would enjoy a three-goal advantage.

France had already turned the tables at the break (11:10), and while they also lost a three-goal lead (15:12) in the second half, they were the strongest side in an exciting finish to the match.

At 20:20 with five minutes left Allison Pineau scored twice (22:20), but with her seventh goal of the match, Veronica Kristiansen reduced the gap to just one again going into the final minute.

Only when Alexandra Lacrabere netted 22 seconds before the final buzzer for 23:21, France knew the title was theirs.

While Nora Mørk netted seven times for Norway to become the event’s top scorer with 66 goals, Pineau and Manon Houette each scored a leading four for the new world champions.

Netherlands defeat Sweden to take bronze

Earlier Sunday, the Netherlands defeated Sweden 24:21 (14:8) in the bronze medal match.

In an odd second-half scenario, Sweden had a 9:0 series to turn a 16:9 deficit into an 18:16 lead but still came up short in the end after Estavana Polman scored three times in the last three minutes.

Lois Abbingh led the Netherlands once more, this time with eight goals, to raise her total for the tournament to 58, second only to Mørk. Isabelle Gullden scored seven times for Sweden.

It was the second straight World Championship medal for the Dutch team after finishing runners-up to Norway two years ago.

Sweden had not been beyond the quarter-finals before, so finishing fourth still marked their best ever result in the competition.

World Championship All-star Team

Before the medal matches on Sunday, the IHF announced the All-star Team and Most Valuable Player of the World Championship. All three medallists are featured twice on the team, while Norway’s Stine Oftedal took the prestigious individual award.

Goalkeeper: Katrine Lunde (NOR)
Left back: Lois Abbingh (NED)
Left wing: Siraba Dembele (FRA)
Centre back: Grace Zaadi (FRA)
Line player: Yvette Broch (NED)
Right back: Nora Mørk (NOR)
Right wing: Nathalie Hagman (SWE)

MVP: Stine Oftedal (NOR)

Top scorer: Nora Mørk (NOR) with 66 goals

Photos: IHF/Stéphane Pillaud

TEXT: EHF / ew