Sweden end 20-year wait with dramatic EHF EURO 2022 victory

Sweden are European men's champions for the fifth time after a 7m throw on the buzzer from Niclas Ekberg saw them defeat two-time reigning champs Spain by a single goal.

By Ken Browne
Picture by BILDBYRÅN

Sweden are 2022 European men's handball champions after a pulsating 27-26 victory over two-time reigning champions Spain in Budapest on Sunday (30 January).

Sweden claimed their fifth Euro title, the most anyone has ever won, and a first Euros trophy since 2002 - the first piece of silverware since they claimed Olympic silver at London 2012.

Spain led 13-12 at half-time and the game stayed touch-tight right to the final buzzer, when a Niclas Ekberg 7m throw with 60 minutes on the clock gave victory to the side in yellow.

Ekberg was the Swedes' top scorer with five goals, along with All-Star defender Oscar Bergendahl, while Hampus Wanne, back for the final after missing the semi, contributed four crucial goals from the wing.

Tournament MVP Jim Gottfridsson set the tone early for the Swedes, scoring the first goal of the game and handling more ball than anyone else completing 159 passes.

Gottfridsson's three goals powered Sweden towards a historic victory in the MVM Dome.

Andreas Palicka was superb once more in the Swedish goal with 11 saves from 35 shots, a 31% save rate, making the difference as he so often does.

Earlier, Denmark claimed third place with a 35-32 victory over reigning Olympic champs France in a rematch of the final from Tokyo 2020.

Sweden take glory in game of fine margins

This was a clash of the semi-final underdogs after Spain eliminated Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medallists Denmark, and Sweden defeated Tokyo champs France.

It could so easily have gone Spain's way, with Aleix Gomez firing once more, both from out wide and from seven metres.

Gomez led Spain's scoring with six goals alongside Adrian Figueras who also had six.

But while coach Jordi Ribera had pulled off a tactical masterclass in the semi-final to stop Mikkel Hansen and the Danish juggernaut, they failed to reach the same heights in the final.

Sweden just had enough to get over the line in the taut final minutes, and more left in the tank, with the intensity brought by Gottfridsson and Palicka proving key.

They are now European champions for a fifth time, putting their defeat to Denmark in the Egypt 2021 World Championships final behind them and ending their long wait for a major title.

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