Two years ago, the Netherlands were close to winning their first title at the EHF EURO, but lost the final against Norway by the slightest of margins. Although the Dutch side did not make it to the final this time, they claimed their second consecutive EHF EURO medal as they enjoyed a commanding win, 24:20, against Romania in a game they led from the first to the final whistle.
Romania vs Netherlands 20:24 (8:15)
It is never easy to play two days after you lost the chance to play for the trophy, but there is still a sweet prize for the winner of the bronze-medal match – an accolade to remember all the hard work put in over the course of the tournament.
Romania looked out of their depth in the first half of the bronze-medal game against the Netherlands, as they apparently could not shake off Friday’s defeat against Russia. The Romanian side needed almost six minutes to score their first goal and did not improve over the next part of the game.
Balls recovered in defence were transformed into easy goals off fast breaks by the Dutch, who jumped to a commanding 12:6 lead after 23 minutes. The medal winners were helped by four goals from Estavana Polman, who also led her team past Romania in the main round, when the Netherlands won 29:24.
Their defence struggled but Romania’s biggest problem was attack, as Ambros Martin’s side recorded a 27 per cent shooting efficiency in the first half. Dutch goalkeeper Tess Wester was back at her best, with seven saves and a rate of 47 per cent.
It was more of the same in the second half, as Romania had another five-minute stint without a goal, which pushed the Netherlands to what looked to be an unassailable 20:12 lead with 20 minutes to go.
But with a 6:1 partial from the 46th minute to the 53rd, Romania fought back within three goals, 19:22, and they looked in with a chance of closing the gap – before the attempted comeback fell short. Romania ended the game on a high, with Valentina Ardean-Elisei reaching the 100-goal mark at EHF EUROs, but with no time left to win the bronze medal.
The Netherlands scored the last goal of the game courtesy of captain Nycke Groot, sealing the four-goal victory, 24:20. Left back Estavana Polman shone with seven goals, while Lois Abbingh was named Player of the Match.
The Dutch thereby added bronze to their medal collection after the silver won two years ago, while Romania lost the EURO bronze-medal match for the second time.