EHF EURO Cup: Croatia Handball Winning Streak Continues with Win against Slovakia

Daniela Rogulj

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After Hungary and Spain, the Croatia men’s senior national team also beat Slovakia in the EHF EURO Cup (32:24) and continued their winning streak. In three competition games, Croatia has recorded three victories. There will be a rematch in Varaždin tonight. 

SLOVAKIA: T. Paul 4/12, M. Žernovič 7/31, P. Hruščak – / -, T. Rečičar – / -, M. Briatka 1/2, J. Prokop 3/6, T. Urban 6/7, L. Duriš 2/4, L. Pechy 1/4, M. Kovačech 1/3, T. Bornar 1/1, L. Urban 2/2, D. Calafut 4/6, M. Slaninka 2/2, M. Jakub 1/4 Coach: Peter Kukučka

CROATIA: I. Pešić 8/38, M. Mandić 2/8, L. Mihić 5/5, A, Gadža 4/4, V. Načinović – / -, T. Kušan 2/2, I. Čupić 2/4, L. Šebetić 4/5, V. Matanović 1/2, D. Mandić 5/6, N. Grahovac 1/1, T. Lučin 2/6, M. Maraš 4/6, L. Šušnja 1/2, F. Grubisic 1/2, D. Pavlović 1/2 Coach: Hrvoje Horvat

Of the 18 players available, coach Hrvoje Horvat decided to send Karel Godec and Fran Mile to the stands. The new extremely young Croatia, with as many as seven debutants, and without a whole series of their stars, started the match with Pešić in goal, D. Mandić on the left, I. Čupić as the captain on the right, L. Šušnja as the pivot, and Domagoj Pavlović, Tin Lučin and Luka Šebetić on the outside positions.

Both teams started with a 6:0 defense. Croatia’s defense reacted brilliantly in the opening. They stole three balls from Slovakia and, in less than five minutes, went to 5:1. Ivan Pešić had several saves, and in the 13th minute, it was 7:3.

Slovakia was saved from a complete flood of goals in that period thanks to the excellent Marian Žernovič, who collected six saves in the 15th minute. Slovakia also changed the defense and reached a 7:7 draw. 

Horvat rotated a lot in the first half. Given the huge number of players who found themselves on the court together for the first time, the game was not as fluid and beautiful as expected. However, Croatia did not allow Slovakia to take the lead for a single moment. In fact, at the end of the first half, Croatia scored a 6:0 series and left Slovakia without a goal for eight minutes. Croatia calmly went to the break with a six-goal difference (16:10).

It took Croatia a full three minutes to score the first goal in the second half. Admittedly, even more for Slovakia. Croatia’s net finally shook for the 11th time after four and a half minutes of play. Croatia’s defense was very mobile and aggressive, and Slovakia called a timeout after only seven minutes of play because Croatia was already nine goals ahead (20:11). Croatia’s biggest advantage was +11. Debut goals were scored by Kušan, Maraš, Grubišić, Lučin. 

Croatia’s best scorers were David Mandić and Lovro Mihić, with five goals each. Tomas Urban was best for Slovakia with six goals.

Source: HRS

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