Brazil upsets Norway 31- 28 in women's handball opener
In a hotly contested affair, a staunch Brazilian defense paved the way for a memorable first round upset over gold medal favorites Norway in the opening preliminary for women's handball.
In an electric Future Arena, the Brazilians got off to a quick start, leading by as many as five goals in the opening half. The Norwegians were clearly rattled by the raucous atmosphere, as the normally poised team caused a handful of turnovers and fouls.
Clutch saves from keeper Kari Alvik Grimbso kept the Norwegians within striking distance through most of the match, but Brazilian pivot Ana Rodrigues dictated her side's tempo, dominating in the transition game. Belo was the leading scorer for Brazil, netting 12 goals.
Norway were not to be outdone, though. With right back Nora Mork leading the scoring for her respective side with 12 goals, Norway entered the second half down by just one goal, a promising sign considering their erroneous shooting.
Brazil continued the momentum in the second half, again buoyed by the boisterous crowd. Two early clutch saves made by Mayssa Racquel Pessoa gave her team an added bost to extend their narrow lead in the second half.
Norway were uncapable of recomposing themselves as Brazil not only hung on, but dominated the entire second half of play with superb transitioning and disciplined defense.
Belo continued to dictate the game, manuevering past the normally-apt Norwegian defense to score a wonder of a goal in the tor left corner outside the seven yard line.
Star pivot Heidi Loke forced a two minute Brazilian suspension in the 17th minute of the second half. Norway couldn't make it count, nor a handful of other power plays, as Belo kept her side afloat despite being down one woman during the power play. Amorim held her nerve after Belo walked off the court for treatment.
The notion of a Brazilian upset over Norway looked to become more and more real as time wore in the second half, as Norway continued their offensive struggles.
The Brazilians' emotions nearly proved costly, gifting Norway a handful of easy penalties late in the second half.
With mere minutes to go, Norway managed to halve a six point deficit, but it was just too tall of a task for them to complete as they find themselves on the opposite end of an iconic storyline for Brazilian handball.