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Date: 8/10/2018

Preliminary Round Group D of the 2018 IHF Women’s Youth (U18) World Championship in Kielce entered its third matchday as Korea grabbed their third win in a row to book their way into the eighth-finals with a win over Montenegro, while France defeated Spain and Tunisia got their first points, beating Kazakhstan in the battle of the bottom.

Preliminary Group D: Wednesday 8 August 2018

Korea vs Montenegro 37:24 (20:10)
Montenegro coach Bojana Popovic watched this match from the spectator seats alongside senior women's coach Per Johansson after the former Buducnost player was given a one-match suspension following a charge of 'inappropriate conduct' in the action-packed 18:18 draw against Spain yesterday.

It was left to her former teammate, and now assistant coach, Suzana Lazovic, to help guide the Montenegrin youth against the diverse and ever-changing defence and attack from the Asian side but the Europeans found it hard to adjust in both phases of play as 13 technical faults in the first half and 12 in the second put paid to any consistent attacking play.

When Montenegro did get a chance to score, Korea were so quick in their re-start that Popovic's team had little time to breathe as time and time again Korea crept in behind the defence to shoot home from the wings - scoring a total of 13 times. This was combined with their classic fast-break game (nine goals from nine attacks) and an aggressive, open defence which saw up to five players in mid-court, fighting to grab the ball back from their opponents.

"We missed several opportunities in attack but I think that’s because of the transition that we are having right now in handball in Montenegro," said Lazovic after the game. "We used to focus on the defence and we are very good at it but now we are trying to practice our attack skills."

Best players of the match: Sumin KIM (KOR), Nikolina KNEZEVIC (MNE)

France vs Spain 29:25 (15:11)
"Despite the fact that we lost I’m very proud of my team because we fought," said Spain coach Alfredo Rodriguez after this match in which his side saw 19 technical faults kill any chance they had of getting a victory after an equal second period (14:14) which had seen his team come back all-square in the 38th minute (16:16) following a four-goal half-time deficit (15:11).

Spain had fallen behind after two particular scoreless periods in the first half when France went on a 3:0 (13-16th minute - 8:5) and then 4:0 run (19-23rd minute - 12:7).

Unsurprisingly, the form book went out the window throughout the 60 minutes as the best (France) and third-best (Spain) defences at Poland 2018, who had conceded just 14 and 18 goals on average respectively, saw little working at the back and with the goalkeeper saving ratios lying at 23% in total in the match, it was down to the attackers to make the difference in the end and with 12 strikes from nine metres, compared to just four from Spain, France managed to keep their noses in front to make it three wins from three.

Best players of the match: Pauletta FOPPA (FRA), Janna SOBREPERA CASOL (ESP)

Tunisia vs Kazakhstan 36:26 (20:11)
Both teams entered this match without any points, and Kazakhstan left without any, after an impressive first half from the North African side ensured the game was not in doubt by the break (20:11).

It was tough on Kazakhstan - who only have a squad of 13 to choose from - who had shown promise against Spain and Korea in their first two games, but Tunisia, who had faced the two best teams in the group in their opening pair of matches (France and Korea) were the ones who showed their superiority after - finally - their key player Fadwa Aouij put her devastating left-hand to use in the 19th and 20th minutes as two strikes put her team up 10:9 after they had been caught by the Asian team after a 5:0 earlier run (6:3 - 11th minute) had threatened to end the game prematurely.

Aouij scored a further three times in the half as a 9:1 run from the 21st-30th minute ended the contest by the break.

Best players of the match: Ayra MASRI (TUN), Assem MURZAGUL (KAZ)