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France's women handballers win first title

rfi English, Dec 17

France’s national women’s handball team are European champions for the first time in their history, after defeating Russia 24-21 in a nail-biting final at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris. 

Two years after their defeat against Olympic champions Russia in Brazil, France's women handballers got their revenge Sunday on the team that had deprived them gold, beating them 24:21 to scoop their first European Womem’s Handball Championships title.

"We deserve this medal, because we worked so hard," coach Olivier Krumbholz told reporters after the match.

France came into Sunday's final on a high after thrashing the Netherlands 27-21 to end a run of three failures at the semi-final stage, with Alexandra Lacrabère scoring six goals.

"What we did was incredible (...) considering that we lost Allison [Pineau] (...) we have written history," said Lacrabère, voted one of the best players of the night.

Pineau was sent off at the 36th minute for dangerous play, after throwing the ball at a long distance and striking the Russian goalkeeper in the face.

The 2009 player of the year left the pitch in tears, leaving her fellow players with a scoreboard of 16-13.

On the Russian side, Anna Vyakhireva, whose 13 goals had helped Russia beat Romania 28-22 in their semi-final, again delivered an impressive performance, delivering seven goals.

But try as they may, Russia could never quite get back in the game and three goals from Lacrabère in the final eight minutes tipped the match in the home side's favour.

"I told them in the dressing room that in life, you have to know how to appreciate the little things," coach Krumbholz added. "And this match has certainly been the most exceptional in terms of emotions," he said.


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