European Handball Championship: Croatia Defeats Czech Republic, Secures Fifth Place

Daniela Rogulj

The Croatia men’s handball team defeated the Czech Republic to win fifth place at the European Championship.

In a dramatic finish, the Croatia handball team overcame the Czech Republic to secure fifth place at the Euros in Zagreb. The game ended 28-27 for Croatia in front of 1,000 spectators, reports on January 26, 2018. 

After equalizing in the initial five minutes, in a slightly quiet atmosphere of the almost empty halls of Zagreb Arena, the Croatian handball players held a comfortable advantage (7-3) in the first ten minutes of the game. Ivan Stevanović was quick with defending counters, while goals by Zlatko Horvat and Manuel Štrlek helped Croatia lead 13-7 by the 21st minute. Up by six points, Croatia was in the lead at the half. 

The Czech Republic was able to close the gap in the score with the help of Ondřej Zdráhala, and just two minutes before the game’s end, the score was 27-26. But just a minute and a half before the end of the game, Marko Mamić forced a 7-meter penalty. Zlatko Horvat hit the penalty kick for a two-goal advantage (28-26), which proved to be enough, but barely enough.

The Czechs scored for 28-27 and then got the chance to equalize 20 seconds before the end after another mistake in the attack. The last shot of the match went above the goal, and Croatia claimed the victory. 

Croatia goalkeeper Ivan Stevanović was declared the player of the game, who defended 13 of 38 Czech strikes. Zlatko Horvat with ten goals, four from 7 meters, was the most efficient player for Croatia. Five goals were scored by Igor Karačić, and four by Manuel Štrlek and Luka Stepančić. Coach Lino Červar played this match without Luka Cindric and Ivan Čupić.

This was the eighth match between Croatia and the Czech Republic at major competitions (Euros, World Championship, Olympics) and the seventh win for Croatia. The only victory for the Czechs was achieved in 1995 in the group stage at the World Championship hosted by Iceland.

On Friday, a decision will be made to see which national team will fight for the title of European Champion. From 18:00, the first semi-final will be held between France and Spain, and from 20:30, we’ll see Denmark and Sweden.

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