EHF EURO 2010 Final MCH Arena, Herning (DEN) Norway - Sweden 25:20 (10:11)
Attended by his Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark the Norwegians became the Queens of Herning beating Swden 25:20 (10:11) and writing handball history as the first team ever in European handball to win four consecutive EHF EURO titles following their victories in 2004, 2006, 2008 and now in 2010 and their fifth overall.
It wasn’t easy for them though as they had a hard struggle to beat a Swedish team in their first-ever final in a very intensive match at the MCH Arena in Herning, Denmark.
Sweden win their first-ever medal - Silver - and along with their opponents qualify directly through to the world championships in Brazil next year, whilst Norway also qualify for the London 2012 Olympics and EHF EURO 2012 in the Netherlands.
Top scorers in the final were Heidi Löke, with seven for Norway and Isabell Gulden with the same number for Sweden.
The first half was a real defensive battle on both sides with the Swedish concrete wall nearly unbreakable for the Norwegians, who maybe feared a repeat of their Main Round match, which Sweden won 24:19.
The Swedish defence proved a huge obstacle to overcome with Norway’s counterattacks unable to break through.
The reigning EHF EURO champions had to struggle hard for every goal they scored, an unusual feeling, as they are so used to scoring fast and easy goals.
Both sides had their problems in attacks with nervous mistakes made, but Sweden waited patiently for their chances and it was the back court row with the EHF EURO 2010 Most Valuable Player Linnea Torstenson, causing trouble for the Norwegian EHF EURO 2010 All Star Team Player, goalkeeper Katrine Lunde-Haraldsen.
Another EHF EURO 2010 All Star Team member Gro Hammerseng led her team with brilliant shots and good passes – but the Norwegians could not reach her outstanding pivot Heidi Löke, which was a big credit to the brilliant Swedish defence before the break.
If Torstenson and her teammates had not hit the post three times in the first half, the surprising lead at the break would have bigger than the 11:10 scoreline the Swedes took in to the pause in proceedings.
The beginning of the second half saw Sweden lose their concentration and power gradually as their shots became weaker, were blocked by the Norwegian defence or saved by Lunde-Haraldsen.
Thanks to those interceptions the reigning champions were in great positions to launch their counterattacks and even as some passes were intercepted by the Swedish, Hammerseng and her Norwegian teammates brought the game level at 11:11, then scored a 6:2 series of goals to make it 17:13 at which point Swedish coach Per Johansson took his time-out to stop the rot.
The Swedes were too tired in their eighth match at EHF EURO 2010 to turn the game, as Norway were full of adrenaline, passion, killer instinct and hunger for their fifth EHF EURO title.
Their way was paved at 19:13, with a strike scored by Löke and even as Sweden reduced the gap to 19:16, 21:18 and then 23:20, thanks to some misplaced Norwegians passes, the champions were not endangered. Löke decided the game one minute from end to make the scores 24:20.
To win gold was a special moment for all Norwegians, but especially for their youngster Nora Mörk who collects her second gold of 2010 as she also won gold when she led the Norwegian Junior team to the World Championship title in Korea this summer.
Best Player of the Game for Sweden was Isabelle Gulldén, whilst Gro Hammerseng won the honour for Norway.