The Croatia men’s handball team was shocked by Sweden in the last game of Group A.
The Croatian handball team suffered a defeat in their final group game at Spaladium Arena against Sweden. Sweden beat Croatia 35:31 and thus won first place in Group A. The Swedes have four points in the second round in Zagreb Arena while Croatia now has only two, reports Gol.hr on January 16, 2018.
The Swedes have thus pushed Serbia into the second round with this victory, who defeated Iceland in the first match of the night. In the newly formed group, which will be played at Zagreb Arena from Thursday, Croatia will play France, Norway, and Belarus. Croatia’s first game in the second group will be played against Belarus in two days.
Croatia displayed a very weak defensive game against Sweden this evening. The Swedes easily created the odds for a shot while the Croatian goalkeepers Stevanović and Pešić did not fare well. Together, they collected only six defenses.
Croatia started the match well and managed to score 4-3 by the seventh minute. However, Croatia suffered a significant downfall in the attack, and Croatian handballers quickly lost the ball, which resulted in quick Swedish counterattacks. Sweden easily had six hits over a period of only six minutes which gave them control of the game for 9-4. The only highlight of the game was 16th to 18th minute when Musa, Horvat, and Karačić scored three goals in a row which brought the score to 10-8. Sweden, though, quickly returned to a five-goal lead.
Sweden was then up by seven (19-12), and with 20 minutes before the end of the game, there were up by nine goals (25-16). With two brilliant goals by Mandalinić and Štrlek, Croatia reduced the lead to 27-21 and re-energized the audience at Spaladium Arena, but Jeppson and Gottfridsson quickly quieted the situation both on the court and in the stands.
Kopljar then reduced the lead to 33-28 in the 56th minute, and in the next Swedish attack, Jeppson missed and gave new hope for Croatia. Unfortunately, Cindrić lost the ball, and the match was decided. Goals by Čupić and Stepančić further reduced the game to 34-31, but with only 15 seconds left, it would be Sweden’s victory.
Ivan Čupić scored seven goals while Marko Kopljar scored five goals to be the most efficient for Croatia.
Translated from Gol.hr