Silje Solberg filled an empty Boxen Arena with wonderful saves as Norway took the European Championship (EC) gold in handball. The defending champions were beaten 22-20 in an exciting thriller match.
Sanna Solberg-Isaksen and Nora Mørk contributed important goals in the final phase of the match after France had the lead at 19-18.
Silje Solberg achieved a save percentage of almost 50% in the first round. It was the biggest contribution to the Norwegian 14-10 lead at halftime.
Solberg came to the European Championships a few days into the championship after being ill with corona the week before.
Her level of play during the first half-hour of the match on Sunday was superb.
She was close to 60% of saves after just 20 minutes of play.
Norway waded into technical errors at the start of the match, but Solberg secured save after save and became the lifeline for the team until the outfielders got back on track in their attack. Defensively, the first half was very solid for Norway.
In the course of six minutes, Norway scored five goals and turned 2-4 into 7-4.
France was stressed, started making simple mistakes and had to chase to keep up.
Solberg started with two saves in the second round. Veronica Kristiansen increased the lead to 15-10.
However, it was 16-15 just a few minutes later. One of the EC’s best players, Stine Skogrand, then scored on a penalty. France did not give up and the score was 17-17 after 49 minutes.
Pure drama ensued. After the break, France’s second goalkeeper Cleopatre Darleux came in and nearly closed the goal completely.
Nevertheless, the evening ended with the eighth Norwegian European Championship gold over a total of 14 attempts.
The next championship for Norway might be the Tokyo Olympics this summer. A qualifier is expected in March against Montenegro (host), Romania, and Kazakhstan. The two best will get a place at the Olympics.
In December next year, the World Cup in Spain will host 32 teams. Norway has already qualified for the championship.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today