Romania qualify for the European Championship semi-finals despite losing to Hungary on Wednesday.
The Romanian women's handball side
have advanced to the semi-finals of the European Championship underway in
France. The fate of the qualification was hanging by a thread after Romania on
Wednesday lost the last match in the main group phase to Hungary, 29-31.
Romania had a good start in the game
against Hungary. The first 20 minutes gave Romania a five-goal lead, and the
score read 11-6 10 minutes from half time. In the second half however Hungary
made a spectacular comeback, evening the odds 17-all. The Hungarian side
dominated the second half and took the lead. On minute 42 Hungary were leading
25-20. Romania narrowed the goal difference and even levelled the score to
27-all 7 minutes before full time. A turning point in the end of the match was
when Cristina Neagu sustained a serious right-knee injury after a foul. Her
absence impacted the gameplay, and Romania eventually lost 29-31, also after
missing a 7-m throw in the last seconds of the game.
Following this result, a total of
three teams were competing for the second place in the group tables, namely
Romania, Norway and Hungary. As a tiebreaker the organisers took into account
the direct encounters between the three teams. Romania had the best score, with
two points and a plus 6 goal-average, as compared to plus 5 for Norway, the
defending European champions, and minus 11 for Hungary.
In Friday's semi-finals to take
place in Paris, Romania will take on Russia. Yevgeni Trefilov's players have
had a good run in this year's championship, despite losing the last match in
the main group phase, 30-39 to Sweden. Ahead of that match Russia had already
secured qualification. Cristina Neagu will be unavailable for Romania's match
against Russia. To replace her, coach Ambros Martin has called up Bianca
Bazaliu, the left winger of Romania's champions, CSM Bucharest, a promising
young player with a good record sheet. In 2016, aged 19, Bazaliu won the
Champions League trophy.
In the other semi-final, the
Netherlands will take on France. The final match is scheduled for Sunday. Let
us also note this is the third time Romania qualify for the European
Championship semi-finals since the competition changed its format in 1994. The
first time was in 2000, when Romania hosted the competition. In the
semi-finals, Romania lost to Hungary at the time, then lost the bronze final to
Russia. In 2010, when the championship was hosted by Denmark and Norway,
Romania lost to Sweden in the semi-finals, although walked away with bronze
after defeating Denmark in the third-place playoff.