Ten minutes before the end, the fans were singing “Heja Norge”; five minutes before the end, the players started their party on the bench; and with the final whistle the rest was pure joy for Norway.
After the unlucky 80-minute thriller against Croatia on Friday, Norway took their first ever EHF EURO medal in style on Saturday, beating Slovenia 28:20 in the 3/4 placement match in Stockholm. And Sander Sagosen broke another record.
- the bronze medal is Norway’s first silverware in Europe after silver at the world championships in 2017 and 2019
- Norway also secure a spot at the World Championship 2021
- goalkeeper Torbjoern Bergerud was the hero with 14 saves
- Sander Sagosen’s 65 goals during the tournament is the most scored by one player in a single EHF EURO
- the top scorers in an one-sided duel were Magnus Joendal with seven goals, earning him the Grundfos player of the match award, and Dean Bombac with five goals for Slovenia
3/4 PLACEMENT MATCH
Slovenia vs Norway 20:28 (9:12)
As both sides had to cope either with the disappointment of losing the semi-finals on Friday or the energy expended in the previous eight matches, the bronze final was initially quite low-paced compared to earlier performances by both sides.
It took exactly 8:40 minutes for Sander Sagosen managed to break the record for the most goals scored in a single European championships. Netting in a penalty to put Norway 3:2 up, he passed Kiril Lazarov’s mark of 61 goals at the EHF EURO 2012 – and went on to score a further three goals during the match, bringing his tournament total to 65.
But in contrast to previous matches, it was not the superstar, but the wing players, who impressed in the first half. Seven of the 12 Norwegian goals before the break were scored by Magnus Joendal (five) and Kristian Björnsen (two).
On the other side, Slovenia could not use their wings as a major weapon, but counted on the goals of line player Blaz Blagotinsek. But neither Blagotinsek or goalkeeper Klemen Ferlin’s seven saves before the break could stop Slovenia from slipping to a 9:12 deficit at the half-time buzzer.
— EHF EURO (@EHFEURO) January 25, 2020
It got much worse for the Slovenians. Norwegian goalkeeper Torbjoern Bergerud saved everything coming his way in the first eight minutes of the second half, increasing Norway’s lead to 17:9. Despite some impressive goals by Jure Dolenec and Dean Bombac, the Slovenians did not manage to come back.
After a sad night on Friday, the Norwegian fans in Stockholm had a great party. Their players did not only receive their first-ever bronze medals, but also a ticket to the World Championship 2021 in Egypt, while Slovenia need to go through the playoffs in June.
Slovenia's Jure Dolenec was philosophical after the defeat.
“We need to look at the bigger picture," he said. "Of course it’s difficult today, especially yesterday and also today we had our chances. We could have won a medal. We’ll go home without. But the bigger picture is that six months ago we were losing in qualifications against Latvia. Two months ago a friendly in Slovenia we weren’t able to win against the Netherlands.
"Today we are among the best four teams in Europe, also in the world. We are close – we are not back I would say, but we are close."
Norway's coach Christian Berge said simply: "We played very well throughout the tournament, to a high level. Now we have a bronze medal and I’m very proud of my team."