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29/01/2016

France claim fifth place at EHF EURO 2016

REVIEW: The dethroned champions beat Denmark 29:26 in the match between the 2014 finalists in Wroclaw

Photo: Stephane Pillaud

France goalkeeper Vincent Gerrard saved 20 shots and was awarded player of the match as he steered France to a 29:26 win against Denmark in the match for 5th place in Wroclaw.

"It was a good game for us tonight. Even if it was not so important mathematically and technically, it was good to finish with some positive sensation," Gerrard said.

We lived together for a month and tomorrow it is over, so we are happy with the win and the way we played tonight."

While 18-year-old Benoit Konkoud led France with eight goals, Peter Balling was the top scorer for Denmark with seven goals.

"I'm still a young player so when I get my chance to play, I take it. I have learned a lot of good things here, so it was very, very good for me," Kounkoud said.

The start of the last EHF EURO match in the Centennial Hall looked like a sequel of the previous meeting of these two continental powerhouses from two years ago at the EHF EURO 2014.

While in the 2014 final in Herning France crushed Denmark already in the first half and never gave them a chance to stage a comeback in their 41:29 win, this time Denmark did bounce back after they had already trailed 0:4 after eight minutes of play.

With 'only' prestige and pride at stake, both sides granted plenty of court time to their second-choice players, so instead of the goalkeeper stars Thierry Omeyer and Niklas Landin, Vincent Gerrard for France and Kevin Moller for Norway stood between the posts.

The latter added even scored his first international goal, but France were firmly in the driving seat in the first half as they benefitted from the shooting prowess of World Handball Player Nikola Karabatic and Benoit Kounkoud.

The Danish attack was spurred on mainly by the powerful shots of Peter Balling, who was instrumental for his team's rally late in the first half.

Early in the second half Denmark levelled the game at 16:16 and even bounced back from trailing 22:25 to equalising once more at 25:25.

But then France exploited the fact that Denmark did not score in the last eight minutes of the game and eventually took a deserved 29:26 win.

written by Vlado Brindzak / ts