The Croatia women’s handball team started the 15th EHF EURO in Ljubljana with a defeat. In the 1st round match of Group A, they lost to Norway 23:32. It was the meeting of the European gold and European bronze medalists from the last European championship in Denmark two years ago. Norway has won 13 consecutive European titles.
Croatia was without several significant players and opened the match against the eight-time European champions in the following lineup: Ivana Kapitanović was in goal, Lara Burić was on the right, and Paula Posevec was on the left. Ana Debelić held the line, and Kristina Prkačin, Valentina Blažević, and Dora Krsnik played in the outside positions. The coach made only one change: Katarina Ježić in defense and Valentina Blažević in the attack.
Both teams were nervous at the beginning. The first goal was scored only at the end of the 3rd minute. Croatia scored its first goal in the 4th minute thanks to Dora Krsnik.
It was clear from the beginning that Croatia would have many problems with Norway’s defense. After only ten minutes, Norway was up by three points (2:5). Croatia’s defense remained solid but missed several clear chances at goal in the first half.
In the 22nd minute and the 29th minute, Croatia came to one goal behind (9:10, 14:15). Norway woke up, going back to plus two (14:16) at the half.
Croatia opened the second half with a 3:1 series. Then, in the 33rd minute, Croatia equalized at 17:17. Unfortunately, Croatia made several technical mistakes and opened the door for Norway to go ahead by three – 18:21. Coach Nenad Šoštarić, therefore, asked for a timeout.
Croatia’s play started to drop. Norway’s transition and quality took precedence and went up by five goals (21:26).
In the 52nd minute, Norway was already up by seven goals. Croatia went 11 minutes without scoring a goal. The European champions routinely brought the match to an end and achieved a convincing 23:32 victory.
With four goals, the top scorer for Croatia was Stela Posavec. Paula Posavec, Tena Japundža, Dora Kalaus, Ana Debelić and Valentina Blažević scored 3 each. Norway’s Nora Mork was the best with eight goals. Henny Reistad scored seven and was also chosen as the best player in the match.
Croatia will face Hungary next on Sunday, November 6, at 6:00 pm.
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