The second edition of the Euro Hand 4 All tournament, where some of the best wheelchair handball teams in the world face off in Lyon, France, was held last weekend, with a six-team line-up at the start, an uptick of two teams from the inaugural edition, as hosts France, Belgium, Portugal and Spain were joined by Croatia and Norway.
The six teams were divided into two groups of three teams each for the preliminary round, with the winners of each group going directly into the semi-finals, while the teams finishing on the second and third positions played in a play-off for a place in the semi-finals.
In the first group, hosts France faced Belgium and Croatia while reigning champions Portugal met Spain and Norway.
Portugal, the reigning champions at the World & European Wheelchair Handball Championship (six-a-side), which were organised jointly by the International Handball Federation, the European Handball Federation and the Portuguese Handball Federation last November, dominated their opponents in the preliminary round, with two clear wins over Spain (20:13) and Norway (15:10).
In the other group, France started with a strong 19:1 win against Belgium. At the same time, Croatia sealed another clear win against Belgium (24:7), which meant that the decider for the first place in the group was going to be the game between France and Croatia, which went into the hosts’ way, 20:16.
In the semi-finals, Portugal dropped another excellent win against Croatia, 19:8, to book their place in the final, where they met Spain in a rematch of the one scheduled on Friday, in the group phase, after the Spanish team took a nail-biting 20:18 win against France, in one of the most balanced games of the competition.
But the drama came in the big final, when Portugal was dominated in the start against Spain, needing to mount a comeback at the end of the first half, when they were leading 10:8. Portugal continued to pounce, opened a four-goal lead, only for Spain to come back and tie the game (19:19), close to the end.
With 15 seconds left, Portugal’s captain Joao Jeronimo scored the winning goal to help his side clinch a 21:20 win and win back-to-back trophies at the Euro Hand 4 All friendly tournament.
In the bronze medal game, hosts France secured a win against Croatia, 17:14, enjoying an excellent match.
“The final against Spain was a fantastic game. Despite having managed to overtake Spain, we made some mistakes towards the end of the match, which we should not have made at this level. We were leading by four goals, and, in only three and a half minutes, we were tied. We have to analyse our performance, understand what we did wrong, correct it and in the future, Portugal will certainly always have a say in international competitions,” said Portugal’s coach, Danilo Ferreira, according to the official website of the Portugal Handball Federation
Portugal’s Maria Relvas was named the Female MVP of the competition, while another Portuguese star, Ricardo Queirós, was the top scorer of the Euro Hand 4 All competition.