It must have been a nice situation for Montenegro to get their opportunity for revenge against Norway so soon after the Olympic final, which left some bad taste with controversy related to refereeing and bad luck. Today there was some of the same concern about tough decisions, but in the end it did not matter: Montenegro won the gold medals after a great surge at the very end!
The final started out just the way one ideally wants to see a final played: good technical quality with very few mistakes, a fast pace and good goalkeeping, accompanied with good refereeing, which all led to a game characterized by fair play and an absence of dirty methods. The Norwegians had some good periods, but Montenegro responded with determination and with nice attacking moves. The half-time result was 12-11 in favor or Montenegro.
In the second half, the trend continued where the successful early shooting by the Norwegians had become more hesitant, of course partly affected by the good form of Montenegrin goalie Barjaktarovic. But gradually, the Norwegians regained their composure, while at the same time the Montenegrins just perhaps were beginning to show tired legs and tired shooting arms, following the tough battle yesterday in the semifinal. Also, just as in the Olympic final, Norway escaped some of the 2-min penalties that Montenegro received, possibly because the methods of the Norwegians were a little less obvious. Understandably, coach Azdic was not too happy. And not surprisingly, the game was tied after 60 minutes, 24-24, following a Norwegian equalizer with just seconds to go.
The first overtime period was characterized by tentative shooting. However, mistakes by the Norwegians led to a 27-24 and 28-25 lead for Montenegro. But then came, to put it mildly, a disputed referee decision whereby Katarina Bulatovic was sent off for 2 minutes, accused of interfering with the throw-off after scoring a goal. This proved to be costly, and the Norwegians forced a second overtime by getting to 28-28. During that final overtime period, it seemed that the individual marking of Knezevic who had been the most successful shooter, and the sense that Bulatovic was a bit too tired, might decide the game in Norway’s favor. But in the end, it was the Norwegians who committed the costly mistakes and turnovers, so that in the last couple of minutes Montenegro could pull away and win by 34-31.
It should be added that Hungary won the bronze medal match after a considerable drama. At the end of the regular playing time, the game was tied at 33-33. Overtime periods tend to be tense and have relatively less goals scored. Here Serbia was ahead 37-36 at the half-way mark, but Hungary turned it around with some quick goals towards the end and managed to pull out a 41-38 win. So no medals for the home team, but their participation in the medal round contributed to a nice atmosphere with large crowds, after a disappointing spectator situation earlier in the competition.