After three dominant wins, Russia had difficulties to overcome the fast Japan team but eventually claimed a one-goal victory, keeping the lead in Group C. The encounter between Montenegro and Tunisia was decided in favour of the Montenegrin side, leaving Tunisia still on zero points.
The Match of the Day in Oldenburg foresaw the clash between Denmark and Brazil and the encounter showed everything the spectators could have wished for. In a thrilling and intense fight, the Danes got the happy end on their side, going to the round of last 16 while Brazil still have to fight for their place on Friday against Montenegro.
Russia vs Japan 29:28 (13:11)
The clash between Russia and Japan took a little while to get going. Getting away from Japan was not as easy as the Russia side might have hoped for and when they finally did, the team of coach Ulrik Kirkely were able to level (8:8) again and in turn take their first two-goal lead after twenty minutes. The reigning Olympic Champions, however, equalised as well and got back in front by two goals from left wing Iuliia Managarova. Russia seemed to be in control of the game but Japan gave them something to think about at half-time.
The Russia side had a better start into the second half, enjoying a comfortable five-goal-advantage after 41 minutes. Although Aya Yokoshima got red carded after three two-minute suspensions Japan were not giving in and once more, the spectators in the Oldenburg Arena saw a thrilling and dramatic finish of a Japan match. A brilliant kempa and a double save by Japanese goalkeeper Sakura Kametani, plus a two-minute suspension for Russia got Japan back into the game. Nozomi Hara was able to score her penalty in the last minute of the game, reducing the gap to one goal. Russia lost the ball in this last minute – but the Japanese side were unlucky again, not scoring the draw.
“We knew that this would be a hard game and we prepared very well. But we had problems in our defense and now we need to find back our good performance and play better,” said Russian player Daria Dmitrieva. Although Russia took the win, Japanese Yui Sunami was awarded Player of the Match. “We are little bit disappointed about the result. We managed the tasks from Ulrik Kirkely very well, so we’re satisfied about that. We’re also happy that the audience is rooting for us. Now we really need to win the next match against Tunisia – that is going to be our next challenge,” stated Sunami’s teammate Shiori Nagata.
Tunisia vs Montenegro 23:29 (13:15)
The Tunisia side had a good start but Montenegro soon took over and already after ten minutes they were ahead with three goals (7:4). But the hard and patient work from Tunisia paid off. Supported by an excellent performance from their goalkeeper Echraf Abdallah, the African team took the lead back but could not keep it until the break.
Tunisia were able to equalise two more times (15:15 and 18:18) but after a four-goal run and a strong performance by top scorer and Player of the Match Milena Raicevic the Tunisia side were beaten, also leaking the power to be a real danger in attack to Montenegro.
Montenegrin coach Per Johansson: “It was a do or die game for us. Tunisia performed very well but the last quarter of the match we played a very good defense. Now we have to face Brazil on Friday in another do or die match.” And left wing Itana Grbic added: “The atmosphere is good right now. I think we did a good job and we convinced as a team.”
After Tunisia’s fourth defeat in a row the team have not lost their optimism. “We’re a little bit unexperienced because we are a young and new to team. But we are here to learn and to show our level to the other teams and to do our best here at Germany 2017,” said Tunisian player Senda Chekir.
Brazil vs Denmark 20:22 (13:13)
Both teams started with a very aggressive defence and both teams benefit from great saves of their respective goalkeepers Sandra Toft and Barbara Arenhart. But Brazil was always one step ahead, taking a three-goal lead after the first quarter of the Match of the Day. However, the team of coach Klavs Bruun Jørgensen fought their way back into the match and it was right wing Simone Bøhme who levelled the score at 13:13 right before the break.
While the 2013 world champions scored their first goal in the second half after four minutes, Denmark had to wait eight long minutes until their first goal after the break. Like in the first half, the match was dominated by the performance of the defence. Slowly and constantly and thanks to an outstanding performance by Denmark’s goalkeeper Sandra Toft, who was awarded Player of the Match, and centre back Stine Jørgensen, Denmark turned the match around and advance to the round of 16 after their 22:20 victory.
“I was really nervous before this decisive match and right now I’m just happy that we’re in the eight-finals,” said Toft after the tough fight. “Sometimes you have to be lucky. We knew that they have a lot of quality in their team which they showed in this great fight today. I’m very proud of my team that we could win this match,” stated head coach Klavs Bruun Jørgensen.
On the other side the team of Jorge Duenas already put their focus on the upcoming encounter against Montenegro: “We knew that we had to win today to have a chance to go to the eight-finals. We’re a really good team and we’re going to fight against Montenegro on Friday for a place in the round of last 16,” commented Brazil’s Jessica Ribeiro.