Croatia Beats Finland in Game 1 of 2023 World Handball Championship Qualifiers

Daniela Rogulj

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Croatia has thus made a big step toward securing a spot in that competition and plays the return match in Varaždin on Saturday, April 16 at 6 pm.

FINLAND: P. Roslander 0/1, M. Makela 16/46, L. Lindberg 2/2, M. Henriksson 2/4, F. Forss 0/2, V. Gronmark 1/1, B. Helander 1/3 , R. Sundberg – / -, E. Hammarberg 0/1, R. Syrjala 1/2, R. Granlund 5/9, S. Vainionpaa 2/2, S. Sakkinen 1/3, G.Montonen 3/6, F. Karlsson 3/6, O. Norlund 0/1, coach: Ola Lindgren (Swe)

CROATIA: D. Kuzmanović 1/3, M. Šego 12/32, M. Marić 0/3, D. Duvnjak 1/1, I. Karačić 1/3, M. Maraš 0/2, M. Mamić 2/2 , L. Cindrić 6/8, V. Matanović 2/4, T. Lučin 2/3, H. Jaganjac 0/1, L. Šušnja – / -, D. Ćavar 4/6, F. Glavaš 8/10, L. L. Klarica 3/8, M. Jelinić 5/7, selector: Hrvoje Horvat

Of the 18 players brought to Finland, coach Hrvoje Horvat left Matej Mandic and Veron Nacinovic in the stands. It is worth reminding that Croatia was left without David Mandić, Željko Musa, Zvonimir Srna, Ivan Čupić, Luka Šebetić, Marin Šipić, and Ivan Martinović before these two qualifying matches due to injuries.

Croatia opened the match with the following line-up: Marin Šego in goal, Marin Jelinić and Filip Glavaš on the wings, Marino Marić as the pivot, and Domagoj Duvnjak, Luka Cindrić and Luka Lovre Klarica on the outside positions. There was only one change in defense-attack, Marino Marić – Leon Šušnja.

Croatia started calmly and used four of the first five attacks to take the 2:4 lead after only six minutes. 

Domagoj Duvnjak pushed forward, resulting in a series of mistakes for Finland. Thus, in the 12th minute, Croatia doubled its advantage to 4:8. After the first quarter, they could have been up by 8 or 9 points, but it was 6:10. 

Horvat started with a series of substitutions. Igor Karačić, Vlado Matanović, and Tin Lučin entered, and Marko Mamić also defended. Croatia made good use of Finland’s exclusions, and at the end of the 20th minute, Croatia was up by 6 goals – 7:13. However, Croatia went without a goal for five minutes, and Finland was helpless against Marin Šego (10 saves).

At halftime, Croatia was up by seven goals (9:16), and 8 Croatia players were among the scorers.

Finland did well in the second half. They came to minus 5 with two quick goals and forced Croatia to get serious. Croatia responded with two goals by Filip Glavas, one from seven meters, and quickly calmed down the growing ambitions of the hosts.

After 13 minutes of play, Croatia went up by 10 (15:25) with the first goal by Marko Mamic. As expected, Horvat started several new changes to give all players the opportunity in the match. The young Dominik Kuzmanović was in goal. Croatia’s advantage grew from attack to attack until the final 21:34. Along with the excellent Marin Šego, who had 12 saves, the top scorer for Croatia was Filip Glavaš, with eight goals from 10 attempts. Luka Cindrić scored six and was chosen as the best player for Croatia. 

Source: HRS

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