In the final of the IHF Women’s Handball World Championship, defending champions Norway met the Olympic silver medalist France. After the Men’s World Championship final, the final was played by the same countries again. The match promised a lot of excitement as Norway was dominant – except for the match against Sweden – throughout the whole tournament but they haven’t met a defense as strong and as organized as the French one in this championship so far. Not like in the previous matches of Norway, France started the final match better (2-0) but Norway bounced back quickly. The Scandinavians turned to a higher speed, mostly thanks to the trio of Nora Mörk, Veronica Kristiansen and Stine Oftedal (4-7). After the Norwegian momentum, Olivier Krumbholz asked for his timeout and this helped his team to stop the Norwegian run and equalize again. In the rest of the first half, no team managed to be dominant but in the final minutes of the half, it was France that had the lead. The French team’s defense was very strong supported by the great performance of goalkeeper Amandine Leynaud who saved clear Norwegian chances and penalties, giving her team a lot of confidence. After 30 minutes, France was closer to the gold medal (11-10).
In the beginning of the second half, France added two more goals to the advantage (13-10). After this, Nora Mörk and Heidi Löke turned to a higher speed and took Norway back into the match (16-16). Both teams had to fight hard for each and every goal and no team managed to dominate. The match was rather going the way France wanted it to go: a match with strong defenses and less goals scored. In this period of the match, neither the Norwegian, nor the French goalkeepers could be decisive for their teams, but both defenses were standing strong. When Amandine Leynaud was benched for a short period, Cleopatre Darleux saved the penalty of Veronica Kristiansen and when Leynaud returned, she made some crucial saves. The Norwegian team seemed mentally more tired and France managed to kill the Norwegian attacks by a rock solid defense. The last minutes promised a lot of excitement as the two teams went hand in hand (20-20). From the French side, Allison Pineau scored in the most important minutes. As the minutes passed by and France took back the lead, the Norwegian trouble was growing. With two minutes left from the match, Pineau made it 22-20 and the match seemed to be decided but a quick French turnover and Kristiansen’s 7th goals woke some slight Norwegian hopes. 20 seconds before the end, Alexandra Lacrabere scored and gave the final stab to the Norwegian golden dreams: France won 23-21 and won the World Championship for the second time in the history, after 2003. In 2017, France won the World Championship in the women’s and men’s competition as well.
IHF Women’s Handball World Championship – Final
France – Norway 23-21 (11-10)
France: M. Houette 4, A. Pineau 4(1), L. Landre 3, E. Nze Minko 3, A. Lacrabere 2, O. Kanor 2, C. Ayglon Saurina 2, K. Niakate 1, S. Dembele 1, L. Flippes 1
Norway: V. Kristiansen 7(1), N. Mörk 7(2), H. Löke 3, K. Brattset 2, Sa. Solberg 1, S. Oftedal 1
Penalties: 1/2 ; 3/7
Suspensions: 8 minutes ; 2 minutes