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Date: 12/20/2015

Romania put on an incredible performance to win the 22nd IHF Women’s Handball World Championship bronze medal with a decisive victory against Poland. 

Jyske Bank BOXEN, Herning 
Bronze Medal Match: Poland vs Romania 22:31 (8:15)

Cristina Neagu was first out of the blocks with a goal in the first 40 seconds, immediately demonstrating that she was ready to play – a dangerous sign for Poland. Romania goalkeeper Paula Ungureanu then took her turn making a statement, saving Poland’s first shot before Monika Kobylinska found the goal to equalise at 1:1. 

But that was the only time the score would be equal. Romania went on a rampage through the first 10 minutes, quickly creating a four-goal gap at 6:2 with goals from Neagu and Gabriella Ibolya Szucs, a fast break from Adriana Nechita and a neat outside shot from Eliza Buceschi. Midway through the half Poland keeper Anna Wysokinska saved a fast break off Nechita to keep the score at 4:8, but Romania were well in control by that stage. 

Poland began to play 5-0 plus one out on Neagu, but Romania showed they are more than just one star with a goal from line player Oana Manea followed by a spectacular outside shot from right back Melinda Geiger to take the score to 5:11. 

Poland continued to chase but they seemed no match for Romania, who scored neat goal after goal to increase their lead. Even two two-minute suspensions, first for Crina Pintea then Gabriella Perineau just 15 seconds later with less than a minute left in the half, did not trouble Romania. With four against six Neagu scored her seventh to give Romania a seven-goal advantage at half-time. 

In the second half Romania proved they were the deserved winners of the bronze medal. Just after the 40-minute mark Geiger added another to take the score to 21:14, and it was clear all Romania had to do was continue their form. Manea scored a fast break only a minute later before Ionica Munteanu saved a Hanna Sadej penalty as the Romanian stampede showed no signs of stopping. 

When Laura Chiper was sent to the bench for two minutes Poland tried an offensive defensive system, but Romania attacked with a confidence that Poland were no longer displaying. Neagu scored an incredible standing ground shot from the intersection of the nine-metre and side line with 15 minutes left, taking her team ahead to a nine-goal lead at 24:15. 

It was Buceschi who gave Romania their first 10-goal advantage, hitting the back of the net in the 49th to put the score at 25:15, at which point it was clear Poland could not close the gap. A beautiful play from Achruk to line player Sadej as the match entered its final 10 minutes ended with the ball hitting the post, as so many Polish shots already had. 

With six minutes left Patricia Vizitiu scored yet another impressive goal for Romania, putting the score at 29:17. Poland decreased the score line a little as the clock ticked down and Romania coach Tomas Ryde rotated on his younger players, but it was Romania’s game from start to finish, and they held on to claim the medal in spectacular fashion. 

“We played a great game. We were very well prepared,” said Ryde after the match. “I’m very happy because all our plans were done by the girls. I’m so happy to work with these girls.”

For Kim Rasmussen it was the second loss in the bronze medal match, after Poland lost the same game against Denmark at the 2013 IHF Women’s World Championship. 

“Today we were up against a better team than us. Tomas has built up the team so fast – it’s very impressive. They beat us one-on-one so many times,” said the native of Denmark.

Defensive specialist Monika Stachowska said the team are extremely sad for the loss, particularly in their coach’s home country: “We are really sorry because it’s the second time we lost the bronze medal. We are sorry for our coach because he’s the only Dane in the finals, and we couldn’t win the medal for us and for him at home.”

Best Player of the Match presented by adidas: Cristina NEAGU (ROU) Left Back