The golden game of Montenegro’s mighty generationArticle
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GAMES TO REMEMBER: After four consecutive gold medals, Norway finally lost their EHF EURO crown as Montenegro put on a stunning display in the final and grabbed the title after two periods of extra time

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The golden game of Montenegro’s mighty generation

Everybody loves a good underdog story and this is exactly what happened in the final act of the Women’s EHF EURO 2012.

Montenegro and Norway had both lost one game until the final in Belgrade, but the Norwegian side had just steamrolled Hungary 30:19 in the semi-final.

They looked like favourites, having won four consecutive gold medals coming into the 2012 event, but Montenegro had something special prepared.

The Women’s EHF EURO 2012 final between Norway and Montenegro will be shown in full on the EHF EURO Facebook page and YouTube channel on Wednesday (13 May) at 18:00 CET.

Pre-match analysis

In August, Norway and Montenegro toughed it out for the gold medal at the Olympic Games, with Norway taking the win, 26:23. It was a heartbreaking loss for the Montenegrin side, which vowed to bounce back stronger than ever at the Women’s EHF EURO 2012.

Indeed, Dragan Adzic’s side had lost only one game on their way to the final, 27:20 against Germany in the main round. But their gritty defence and strong back line lifted them to their first ever final, after defeating hosts Serbia 27:26 in the semi-final.

Norway were on the brink of their fifth consecutive gold medal, having lost only one game in the past four tournaments. And they had a flawless outing until Denmark got the best of them in the last game of the main round, 35:33.

A straightforward win in the semi-final against Hungary made them look in a strong position and everyone was expecting Norway to clinch another gold medal.

Breaking point

Montenegro looked to have the upper hand in the game in regular time, opening a three-goal gap at the start of the second half, only for Norway to come back and tie the game in crunch time. The deadlock was not broken for most of the extra time, but as the game seemed heading towards a penalty shootout, Montenegro took control. A 3:0 run in the last two minutes, a couple of saves from Sonja Barjaktarovic and two fast breaks goals from Radicevic and Andjela Bulatovic sealed the deal for Montenegro.

Player of the match – Milena Raicevic (Montenegro)

The Montenegrin playmaker was only 22 at that time, but she had a vintage performance in the final, scoring 10 goals.

Raicevic did not make the All-star Team, but finished second in the top goal scorer ranking, with 41 goals throughout the tournament, also dishing 29 assists in the eight games played in the EHF EURO 2012.

Unsung hero – Katarina Bulatovic (Montenegro)

It was a vintage performance for Bulatovic in Serbia, as the four-time EHF Champions League winner finished the tournament with 56 goals and 25 assists. Eight of these goals were scored by the tournament’s All-star right back in the final against Norway, as the Scandinavian defence had little to no answer for her powerful shots.

Best quote

“If we played for two days, Norway would not have won the game. We were that powerful,” – Sonja Barjaktarovic Montenegro goalkeeper.

Montenegro always played wearing their heart on their sleeve and it was clear they had only one goal: win the game, irrespective of how good Norway were. Indeed, they did just that and wrote history in Serbia, with a breathtaking display.

Play of the day

Montenegro were up by one goal, 32:31, with 90 seconds to go, but Norway had the attack. However, the resilient Montenegrin defence snatched the ball and deployed a devastating fast break, with Andjela Bulatovic scoring the crucial goal that practically sealed the deal. Bulatovic, a defensive specialist, had previously scored only seven times in eight games throughout the tournament.


The golden generation of the Montenegrin women’s handball reached its peak in Serbia, producing their best handball up until this date.

Despite standouts like Katarina Bulatovic, Jovanka Radicevic or Milena Raicevic still playing at the highest level, Montenegro never won another medal at an important tournament. Their best result was fourth at the next EHF EURO in 2014.

On the other hand, Norway bounced back and won gold again in the next two EHF EURO tournaments, despite the Nordic side ushering new players into the team every year.

Fun fact

This was the first Women’s EHF EURO final to be decided after two periods of extra time.

One earlier final had also needed an extension after the regular time: in 2000, Hungary and Ukraine were stuck at 26:26 after 60 minutes before Hungary claimed the title: 32:30 after extra time.

TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / ew