The Hispanics survive against Norway to fight for the medals


Spain are close to KO, but Álex Dujshebaev’s genius and Pérez de Vargas’ saves open the doors to the semi-finals after an epic two-overtime battle

Few teams represent the values ​​of the sport quite like Spain’s men’s handball team. The Hispanics have a wise man on the bench, Jordi Ribera, and great figures in all positions, but above all they are a team with capital letters, with a bombproof competitive character. When all seems lost, that little extra appears that allows Spain to partner with the best year after year.

Norway, that team with the stamp of the German Bundesliga led by Sander Sagosen, was much more than the talent of one of the best players in the world, much faded at launch by the huge Spanish tactical work. He knocked Spain to the canvas, but allowed them to get up and once they were revived, the Spanish team did not give up the opportunity to fight for the medals for the fifth consecutive major tournaments.

Many names sometimes pulled the bandwagon -Joan Cañellas, Adriá Figueras, Ángel Fernández…-, in a real feature, but two stood out above the rest. The talent of Álex Dujshebaev and the saves of Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas decided at the moment of truth.

Norway’s start was intimidating. The tough Nordic defense was tickled only by the magic of the eldest of the Dujshebaevs. The versatile left-footed player from Kielce shot one-on-one and feinted against the pounds of the Norwegian wall, but on the other side of the field, Jonas Wille’s side constantly showed a leak in Spain’s defence. It took Jordi Ribera less than ten minutes to stop the game to command the Spanish defence, until then on paper.

Bergerud, Barthold (8), Overby (2), Bjornsen (9), Sagosen (3), O’ Sullivan (4) and Abelvik (2) -starting seven-. Saeveras (ps.), Blonz, Gullerud (1), Gulliksen, Johannessen, Aga Eck, Overjordet, Grondahl (2) and Reinkind (3).

Pérez de Vargas, Ángel Fernández (7), Gideón Guardiola, Peciña, Ferran Solé (3), Dani Dujshebaev (5) and Casado -starting seven-. Corrales (ps.), Figueras (5), Serdio (1), Odriozola (2), Cañellas (5), Sánchez-Migallón, Valera, Álex Dujshebaev (7) and Maqueda.

Trouble intensified on the 40×20 as goalkeeper Torbjorn Bergerud began to settle in, in line with his performance against Germany. The distance of four goals (7-3) invited to shake the tree in search of a reaction, with Cañellas replacing the hitherto unfortunate Agustín Casado. The Melsungen centre-back did not play the main round game against France due to physical problems and his form was not optimal for a life-and-death duel.

The best news came with Sagosen’s second exclusion. With 45 minutes to play, the great Norwegian star was on the verge of a red card abyss as a 0-4 run equalized the game. This is handball, a dizzying sport where a game turns the script into a seen and unseen. The defense, sign of Spanish identity, was another. Sagosen, O’Sullivan and company went into a spin and piled up losses, allowing the Iberians to run and polish the definition of their targets.

Spain rowed until they were ahead on the scoreboard (9-10), but when the hardest part seemed to be done, Norway kept their pulse and recovered thanks to their heavyweights and Bergerud’s excellent save percentage, at around a stratospheric 50%. Their thirteen goals came from men starting in the starting seven, which, despite the minimal Nordic advantage at half-time (13-12), suggested that Norway would eventually pay for its lower depth.

Norway showed no signs of exhaustion after the break, despite the blows backing each other up with their hard core as Spain shifted the bench. There was a small pause in organizing the attacks, an unusual defect in Hispanics that forced them to make the rubber. With the game tense, Pérez de Vargas’ saves appeared, that moment of relief that he usually gives in every game. Sagosen huffed, denied as almost never before at launch and limited in defense by the two lockouts.

Norway responded by bringing second-unit men like Gullerud, Grondahl and Reinkind onto the scene, but most of all punished Spain with the overall success of their wingers, the right-hander Barthold and the left-hander Bjornsen, who accounted for more than half of the Norwegian goals. The alarms went off with the score tied at 24-22 with eight minutes left, but Figueras came to the rescue with his mastery to find the spaces in the pivot.

It was time to defend the rest and the towers of the Spanish wall gave up until Sagosen was at his wits’ end. Every goal cost a world and the failure of Figueras, the beacon of the Spanish attack in the last stretch, from the penalty spot put Spain in an extreme situation. With one down and undervalued until the end of the game, Álex Dujshebaev’s failure 20 seconds from the end practically eliminated Spain, who came back to life with the Nordic passive in a blunder and the goal ‘in extremis’ from Dani Dujshebaev on the counter.

The Hispanics found themselves packing their bags, but they came back to life for ten minutes of overtime, not for the faint of heart. This time it was Spain that had a minimal lead and possession of the ball, but that did not solve and let the Norwegian team force an extra time with a goal from Bjornsen.

There was no way to decide a game at set tables, even coming into the last five minutes. It was like déjà vu, but the outcome would be a Spanish accent this time. Dani Dujshebaev threw his arm from a long distance to unblock an attack that looked ugly, but the icing on the cake was a classic. The explosive Pérez de Vargas became gigantic and until then denied every inch of space to the stubborn Bjornsen. There was no time for more, the Spanish boat had survived the shipwreck and reached the edge of the semifinals, that Olympus in which it has been installed in the last five major tournaments.

Source: La Verdad


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