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24/01/2016

Sterbik, Landin shine in opposite goals, but only Denmark take the win

REVIEW: Denmark beat Spain 27:23 in the top match of Main Round Group 2 on Sunday and the EHF EURO 2012 champions edge closer to the semi-finals

Photo: Sascha Klahn

Denmark are well on their way to another EHF EURO Semi-final: By beating Spain 27:23 (11:14) in the duel between the winners of Groups C and D of the preliminary round, the Danes recorded their fourth win in their fourth match.

With six points on their account, they top Group 2 together with Germany (also six points) and ahead of Spain (four points). These three teams will fight for the semi-final spots from this group.

Best scorer of a classy match with two completely different halves was Michael Damgaard with six goals, but the true stars of the match stood between the posts.

The extra-ordinary performances of world-class goalkeepers Arpad Sterbik (Spain/21 saves) and Niklas Landin (Denmark/17 saves) thrilled the spectators in Wroclaw.

"We played against a fantastic team. In the first half we had problems in defence and we did not score because of a fantastic performance by Arpad Sterbik. But in the dressing room I said that we can improve – and we did," said Denmark's coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson.

"The second half was one of the best I ever experienced with this team, so a big credit for all the players, as they fought very well. I am extremely happy now."

After 30 minutes of play the outcome of the goalkeeper duel reflected the rundown of the match in the first half.

Sterbik, who staged a great comeback after he had missed the last two matches, was slightly ahead by ten saves compared to Landin's eight – and Spain led 14:11.

Denmark, who were out for revenge after they had lost at the World Championships in 2013 (final) and 2015 (quarter-final) against Spain, had a bad start to the game.

After just five minutes they trailed 1:4 and top star Mikkel Hansen had enormous problems with scoring on the one and defending on the other side of the court.

But despite these problems, the EHF EURO champions from 2008 and 2012 reduced the gap to 5:6 after 15 minutes and to 8:9 after 21.

Then Sterbik shone again: His saves propelled Spain to a 14:10 lead.

After the break, Sterbik became even better. Seemingly without showing any kind of emotion, the 'colossus' in the Spanish goal saved shot after shot coming from Denmark.

But his teammates were not able to benefit and carve out a larger lead; quite to the contrary Spain started having problems to break through the Danish defence and to score against Landin.

Denmark came closer and eventually levelled at 18:18 with a 'missile' by Mikkel Hansen.

Now Denmark played on a high and were backed by the incredible Niklas Landin.

Consecutive goals by of Casper U. Mortensen and Henrik Toft Hansen gave them their first two-goal lead at 20:18, and when Landin saved a penalty shot of Valero Rivera jun. his team continued to play on fire, while Spain were in a state of shock.

Again Toft Hansen and Anders Eggert netted for the Danes, Spanish coach Manuel Cadenas took his final timeout eight minutes before the end, when Hans Lindberg had scored at 23:18, the seventh straight Danish strike after being down 16:18.

“Those seven straight goals they scored in the second half were the key to success for Denmark. Despite the defeat we are still in the competition," said Spain's coach Manuel Cadenas.

But when Jesper Noddesbo netted against Sterbik, his former Barcelona teammate, at 25:20 with only three-and-a-half minutes on the clock, the deal was sealed.

written by Björn Pazen / ts