After four rounds in group teams the following teams are locked in the QF's: Norway and Brazil for Group A. As for Group B, Russia clinched a berth in the third round, but remain on top. France have also advanced to the quarterfinals and are taking Sweden and the Netherlands with them, as it is now mathematically impossible for South Korea or Argentina to move into the top four in.
Group A Standings:
1. Norway: 6 points (+19 goal differential)
2. Brazil: 6 points (+15)
3. Spain: 4 points (+5)
4. Angola: 4 points (-8)
5. Romania: 4 points (-10)
6. Montenegro: 0 points (-21)
Group B Standings:
1. Russia: 8 points (+14)
2. France: 6 points (+23)
3. Sweden: 5 points (+11)
4. Netherlands: 4 points (+4)
5. South Korea: 1 point (-8)
6. Argentina: 0 points (-40)
Group B: France display masterclass defense in win over South Korea
France officially clinched their spot in the quarterfinals of women's handball. For the first time ever, South Korea will not be in the quarterfinals in women's handball at the Olympics.
South Korea started off hot early, expert maneuvuring down the stretch and composure on the back line disoriented the French side. The French shifted so often on the offense and moved the ball so quickly that France didn't have the chance to close those gaps, and it worked wonders. South Korea got up to a 10-5 lead.
It would take seriously reorganizing for France to get back on track, and that trio of Alexandra Lacrabere, Allison Pineau cannot be neglected. Their movement caught the Koreans slacking on defense and got them back on level terms after a nine minute stretch with just one South Korean goal.
If South Korea were to keep their heads floating above water in this tournament, they needed to come out strong in the second half to put that awful end to the first behind them. And they needed to stop Lacrabere.
It started off poorly for them, as Lacrabere was seemingly attacking from every which angle in the opeming moments of the first half and it was South Korea who fell behind by two goals early. South Korea, if including the nine minutes to end the first half, went 14 minutes of play with only one goal.
South Korea struggled to get back into position on fast breaks, and that proved costly as it gave time for France to close down on any strikes. They had a chance to make amends for it off a double power play, and the lack of French defenders gave the wingers more than enough space to work with on the six meter crease.
But the French have been incredibly efficient in absorbing pace this whole tournament, and it was the case with South Korea. France excellently counter-punched the Koreans and bided their time on the defensive line, stumping South Korea nine meters back and forcing poor shots.
Down by just three goals in the second half, but a lot of ground to make up for South Korea. But that French defense was near flawless in the second half. France held South Korea to just two goals in the first 22 minutes of play in the second half.
France, now with 6 points, move up to second in group play and have clinched a quarterfinal spot for themselves. Their victory also gifts berths to Sweden and the Netherlands.
Group B: Russia (4-0) escape Argentina (0-4) 35-29
Argentina gave Russia a much tougher match than expected in the first evening session on Friday.
Russia looked quite disorganized on defense, making careless mistakes that incurred penalty shots and power plays. Russia were also able to create only one opportunity off the wing in the first half.
Come halftime it was Argentina who looked like the better team, down by just one goal at 18-19.
Russia continued to look far from their previous form in the tournament, and Argentina grabbed the lead in the 17th minute off a seven meter penalty.
Manuela Pizzo and Luciana Salvado led the Argentinian effort on the wing - that normally is dictated by the Russians - to create 11 opportunities. The Russian defense had trouble contain a visibly passionate and fired up Antonela Mena, who wrestled her way through that line. Mena was four-for-four today.
The versatile Anna Yvakhireva did good work once being moved into the right back position. She scored Russia's next three goals: the one to level at 29-29, the go-ahead and the two-goal advantage.
That run by Yvakhireva sparked a late 8-0 run for Russia, just good enough to remain perfect in group play.
Group A: Norway (3-1) claim their place, put Montenegro (0-4) in their's after 28-19 win
Norway clinched their quarterfinal position after another convincing win, this time over Montenegro (and jumped Brazil in the standings on goal differential).
This tournament has typically seen the rise of Nora Mork, Norway's newest superstar, who did have a very good game of her own (again). But Norway's players of old also made some appearances, to the delight of their teammates and fans.
Camilla Herrem scored three goals in the first half, one off a behind-the-back pass by Veronica Kristiansen. Linn-Kristin Riegelhuth Koren also made her first goal of her tournament for Norway. Koren's been a member of Norway's national team since 2003 and was a major contributor in Norway's 2008 and 2012 Olympic triumphs. Marit Malm Frafjord, who was a part of those games with Koren, also recorded a goal in that first half. Katrine Lunde, who represented Norway since 2002, made a few appearances in goals to defend penalty shots.
Mork and Kristiansen finished the game with six and five goals, respectively. Kari Aalvik Grimsbo had a nearly unheard of 60% save ratio for Norway, saving 24 of 40 shots.
Group A: Romania (2-2) dig deep to defeat Spain (2-2) 24-21
Romania continued to bounce back after their disastrous 0-2 start in the women's handball competition.
While fans of American and Swedish soccer were holding their collective breath during the two nations' nerve-wrecking clash in the women's soccer quarterfinals in Brasilia, Romania held off Spain on a hard fought handball encounter.
Cristina Neagu has been waiting for the whole tournament for her team to support her in Romania's quest for a medal. She got that support in the first half against Spain in what was effectively a must-win for Romania. Melinda Geiger complemented the Romanian left back on the pivot. The two combined for nine of Romania's 13 goals in the first half.
Neagu finished the game with nine goals.
Romania did a good job pushing back that Spanish back line, generating seven opportunities from the six meter marker.
Paula Ungureanu performed her duty splendidly in the first half as well, saving 42% of shots faced. She finished the game with a 42% save ratio.
Spain crept back into the match in the latter portion of the second half, catching Romania in transition off the fast break. The Spaniards were given an opportunity to pull ahead in the 50th minute of play during a two minute power play, but Neagu's teammates dug deep, continuing to move the ball well on the defensive end. And it was Neagu who scored the decisive three-lead goal at the end of the 29th minute to keep their slimmest of chances to advance alive.
Group B: Netherlands (1-2-1) and Sweden (2-1-1) each grab point in thrilling 29-29 draw
With a possible quarterfinal spot on the line for the winner of this game, both teams knew that a fast start would go a long way. Both of these teams delivered.
But it was Nathalie Hagmann who really took control of this game for Sweden. The right winger picked apart the Dutch defense and made Tess Wester, who's been red hot for the Netherlands this tournament in goal, look rather beatable. Hagmann scored eight goals in the first half to keep Sweden out in front.
The Dutch stormed the court early in the second half, outscoring Sweden 5-1 in the first five minutes to reclaim the lead at 18-17. Sweden did well to quickly recover from that setback, finding the gaps in the middle to draw the penalty shots.
Sweden were hardly incapable of defending the fast break, and gave the Netherlands an astounding 14 chances to score off of them. Hagmann kept her team in it, though, continuing her amazing game well into the second half. A shot from the seven meter penalty marker brought her team back on level terms at 27-27 in the 25th minute.
Sweden reclaimed the lead just a minute later from a Linnea Torstensson shot from the six meter line. The Netherlands, at 28-29, had a chance to rescue the draw in the final 25 seconds of play. After shifting the ball from the pivot to wing position, and back into the center it was Angela Malestein who broke through the six meter line to draw the match at the final second.
Group A: Brazil (3-1) def. Angola (2-2) 28-24, lock up QF spot
Brazil are through to advance to the quarterfinals following a fine second half display against Angola on Friday morning. Brazil began the game shakily, but rebounded quite well as newfound momentum pushed them past a tough Angolan team.
Ana Paula Belo finished the game with seven goals, while Natalia Maria Bernardo's efforts for Angola fell just short.
Angola, who were 2-0 in this competition at one point and second in the standings for Group A, are now dangerously on the borderline of falling off. They are going to need help from Spain if they are to hang on in the final days.