As Russia’s appearance at the tournament had been agreed upon earlier, the Croatian Handball Federation reacted quickly and arranged two friendly matches against Russia instead. The first was played on Friday, January 7, and the second to be played on Saturday, January 8, at the same time.
Croatia was left without Luka Šebetić due to an injury, while captain Domagoj Duvnjak and Luka Cindrić are in COVID isolation. Marko Mamić was ruled out of the Croatia Cup to prevent further injury.
Russia was once an international handball powerhouse. In the last 30 years or so since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has won eight medals from major competitions. The last one, however, was a long time ago, in Athens at the Olympic Games when they won bronze.
Russia is in a very interesting group at the European Championship, along with Norway, Lithuania, and one of the two hosts, Slovakia. Their first round is played in Košice.
Russia scored the first goal of the match for 0:1 at 1:41. Cupic equalized for 1:1 10 seconds later, before Russia took the lead again on a quick counterattack. Mandic made it 2:2 at 2:30. Martinovic scored for 3:2 in the 6th minute and a Mandic goal made it 4:2 in the 7th.
Martinovic made it 5:2 before Russia finally scored for 5:3 in the 10th minute. Martinovic scored again for 6:3 a minute later!
Cupic made it 7:4 in the 12th and it was 8:4 for Croatia moments later. A Jaganjac lob made it 9:4 in the 14th. Mandic made it 11:7 in the 19th minute.
Martinivoc hit the upper left corner for a goal in the 24th minute (12:9), again for 13:9 one minute later, and again for 14:10 in the 26th!
Croatia’s star continued to find the back of the net – Martinovic bent it around the keeper for 15:12 with 2 minutes to go in the first half.
The first half ended 15:12 for Croatia.
Croatia scored the first goal of the second half in the first minute for 16:12. Glavas scored from 7 meters for 17:12.
Martinovic scored from 7 meters for 18:13 in the 5th minute. Mihic scored his first goal of the match in the 7th minute for 19:15.
Sipic scored for 20:16 in the 10th minute and again for 21:17 one minute later.
Gadza scored for 22:18 in the 13th minute. Jaganjac scored a rocket for 23:19 in the 15th minute.
Martinovic scored his 10th goal of the game in the 17th minute for 24:20. A quick Croatia counter made it 25:20 in the 18th.
Jaganjac scored again for 26:20 for Croatia’s biggest advantage of the game. Jaganjac scored for 27:22 in the 22nd minute.
Goalkeeper Mate Sunjic saved a Russia penalty in the 24th minute.
With 3 minutes to go, Croatia was up by 5 points (28:23).
A fab play by Glavas made it 29:23. Glavas scored again for 30:23 with 2 minutes to go. Russia scored the final goal of the game which ended 30:24.
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