Norway overcame a disastrous start to beat rivals Denmark 27-25 in the final of the Women’s European Handball Championships.
Norway’s women’s handball team picked up their ninth European title in Ljubljana last night. But it could have been very different, with Norway down by three goals at the break.
Handball is a popular sport in Norway, and the national teams often perform well in major tournaments. Jointly held by Slovenia, North Macedonia and Montenegro, this 16-team tournament took place from 4 to 20 November, 2022.
Denmark raced into an early lead
Scandinavian rivals Denmark stunned Norway by racing into an early lead. The Danes stayed ahead for much of the game, leading at points by five goals.
But a combination of critical goals from Nora Mørk and a fantastic goalkeeping performance from Katrine Lunde allowed Norway to creep back into the game.
Incidentally, the win means Lunde becomes the world’s most successful handball player at the international level, in both the men’s and women’s game.
A late turnaround
When Norway drew level at 22-22 with ten minutes to go, the unbelievable suddenly became believable and there was a clear shift in momentum on the court.
Norway took the lead for the first time with just seven minutes remaining.
Mørk told broadcaster Viaplay she “didn’t completely understand” how Norway managed to turn the game around:
“I think this is completely surreal. This was a rollercoaster ride. We were behind for large parts of the game. Now I'm just proud and don't really understand how we did it.”
Debutants surprise many
Despite Norway’s strong reputation as a handball nation, many pundits wrote them off coming into the tournament because of the high number of players making their national team debut.
“It means a lot to me, but mostly to Norwegian handball. We have a methodology and a system that works in a number of areas,” said Norway’s Icelandic head coach, Þórir Hergeirsson.
Speaking on Viaplay, Camilla Herrem—who couldn’t participate in the tournament due to pregnancy—highlighted team morale as the key factor: “No matter who comes in, it works. I am so proud to be part of this team.”
The sweetest revenge
The two sides had already met in the tournament group stage. Denmark’s 31-29 win sent Norway into a semi-final against France, a supposedly tougher route to the final.
However, Norway thrashed France by eight goals to set up the final against Denmark, who knocked out Montenegro.