The French handball players, Olympic champions almost six months ago in Tokyo, qualified for the semi-finals of the Euro by beating Denmark 30-29 after the main round in Budapest on Wednesday evening. Led by 5 goals (27-22) twelve minutes from the end of the match, Valentin Porte’s teammates overturned the match to finally win thanks to Hugo Descat’s 7-meter throws. For a place in the final, they will face Sweden on Friday.
Heroic, the French handball players snatched their ticket for the semi-finals of the Euro by overthrowing Denmark (30-29), Wednesday in Budapest in their last group match, and can continue to dream of a third continental title. It was “a moment of life and death” for Guillaume Gille. His Blues are alive and well, qualified somewhat miraculously after being led by their great Scandinavian rivals for a long time. And another five goals with twelve minutes remaining.
Because the Danes, if they had left their star Mikkel Hansen at rest, being already qualified, were not there to give a gift and intended to “put France on the plane”.
For the moment, the return plane remains on the ground. The Olympic champions in Tokyo six months ago, against these same Scandinavians, have instead chosen to fly with character towards the last four where they will face the Swedes on Friday. The other semi-final will pit Denmark against Spain. It took a start, the cold blood of Hugo Descat at the penalty, the awakening at the right time, in the second period, of a Vincent Gérard for a long time with absent subscribers.
Without Nicolas Tournat and Kentin Mahé, absent for covid, the Blues were first mistreated throughout the first act. They made a fantastic comeback to qualify in the final moments.
Long at -5
It took until the 58th minute and a winning shot from Dika Mem to see the French take the lead for the first time, proof of the strength of character that emerged from Valentin Porte’s group.
“It’s huge! We were a little taken by the stakes at the start of the match, we completely missed our start, especially in defense we took on water and we have nothing to reassure ourselves. But we learn from our mistakes , behind we didn’t give up. We stayed at minus five for a long time, we always believed in it and in the end we were rewarded,” said the captain.
Of course, coach Guillaume Gille, still absent on Wednesday for covid-19 too and replaced by Erick Mathé, would surely have preferred to avoid certain turbulence to qualify. The Blues also seemed set for that, with 100% victories at the end of the first round and a demonstration against the Netherlands during the first meeting of the main round (34-24).
And then the lead in the wing. First there was the return of tiles linked to Covid-19, a major player in this Euro where the Omicron variant was invited as a common adversary to all the nations involved. France had their share with Karl Konan first then Mahé and Gille, Ludovic Fabregas being sick (but not positive) during the defeat against Iceland.
This rout against the islanders (29-21) seemed to sound the death knell for French hopes, until the Croats revived them by beating the Nordics against all odds on Monday. The wheel seemed to be turning in the right direction again. France found Karl Konan and Ludovic Fabregas and won ahead of Montenegro. A draw against Denmark was enough for them now. With the victory, they added panache.