Two medalists of the London Olympics faced each other in the first round of the Olympic Games in Group A: silver medalist Montenegro took on bronze medalist Spain. Before the Olympics, Montenegro reactivated Bojana Popovic to have the chance to repeat their great run in 2012, and the returning legend also had the honor to bear the Montenegrin flag on the opening ceremony, however, her return didn’t help Montenegro to start the competition well against Spain.
The Spanish “Guerreras” started the way they made clear for everyone: they want to repeat or improve their result from London. For Montenegro it took a little time to find the rhythm of the game, while Spain used the opportunities well to put themselves to the front right in the first minutes of the game. And once the Spaniards gained control over the game, they never let it go from their hands. Even with sharpshooters like Bojana Popovic and Katarina Bulatovic, Montenegro was struggling against the Spanish defense and goalkeeper Silvia Navarro. After just 20 minutes played, Spain had a comfortable 10-4 lead. Even though the last 10 minutes of the half were better for Montenegro, they still were four goals behind after the first half (10-14).
It seemed Montenegro wouldn’t have the power to turn the match around as Spain had a better start in the second half as well (17-11). The scissor only opened up between the two sides, Montenegro didn’t find the pace of the game while the Spanish wall-goalkeeper troop was unbreakable. Jorge Duenas could even rest some of his key players in the second half as with 10 minutes remaining, Spain had a more than great 23-15 lead. The match was already decided in the first half. Montenegro was clueless in attack and the goalkeepers couldn’t match the level of Silvia Navarro on the other side (Navarro: 45%, Barjaktarovic 16%, Rajcic 10%) – Brazilian-born Spanish goalkeeper Darly Zoqbi de Paula only entered for two penalties and was able to save one. Spain was defending really well, played with confidence and speed. Montenegro will really need to raise the bar to reach the quarterfinals. Bojana Popovic finished without a single attempt on goal.
Rio 2016 – Women’s Handball Tournament – Group A, round 1
Spain – Montenegro 25-19 (14-10)
Spain: A. Cabral 4(2), N. Pena 4(1), N. Alberto 4(2), E. Pinedo 4, M. Aguilar 2, C. Martín 2, N. Egozkue 2, E. Chavez 1, M. Lopez 1, M. Mangue 1
Montenegro: K. Bulatovic 5(1), R. Petrovic 4(2), J. Radicevic 4, D. Jaukovic 2, M. Mehmedovic 2, M. Raicevic 1, S. Lazovic 1
Penalties: 3/5 – 5/5
Suspensions: 2 minutes – 8 minutes