Mediterranean Games: Croatia Handball Team Defeats Spain for Place in Final!

Daniela Rogulj

Croatia and Tunisia will play in the final of the Mediterranean Games on Sunday, July 1. 

The Croatia handball team advanced to the 18th Mediterranean Games final in Tarragona, Spain! In a dramatic match that went to extra time, Croatia celebrated over the host, Spain, 31:32, and thus has the opportunity to fight for the gold and surpass their success of the last Mediterranean Games in Mersin, Turkey in 2013 when Croatia won the silver, reports on June 29, 2018. 

Both teams came out hard at the start, making it impossible for either side to hold a lead. Croatia and Spain played goal for goal until the last six minutes of the first half! 

By the 24th minute, Croatia was the one who had the minimal lead, which Spain tried hard to catch. The best shooter for Spain was Aitor Arino who scored five goals in the first half. Lino Červar brilliantly used the young Halil Jaganjac, who was 5/5 in shots at Spain’s net in the first half hour. In the 24th minute, Croatia was the first to break at +2 (9:11) with David Mandić’s goal. In the last minute, Marin Šipić hit for 15:12 and Croatia had a three-point advantage into halftime. 

When the second half began, Croatia led +4 points by Marin Šipić and Lovro Jotić. However, the Spaniards increased the rhythm and slowly started to come back. Croatia led 18:15 after Josip Božić Pavletić’s goal, but a series of three goals scored by Ios Goni Hispanos allowed Spain to equalize. Božić Pavletić and Jotić returned to +2 (20:18), but Spain was always at Croatia’s neck. 

In the 54th minute, Angel Fernandez brought Spain in the lead for 25:24, but Jaganjac and Jakov Vranković attacked, whose goals returned Croatia to the lead. By the end of the game, the winner was uncertain, and in the last minute, the game was tied 27:27. Croatia, however, had the last attack, though they were unable to capitalize and the game went into extra time. 

After the first five minutes, the result was still equal (29:29), but in the second part of the extra time, Mandić and Tin Kontrec scored for Croatia’s victory and placement into the finals of the Mediterranean Games.

Croatia’s best shooter was Halil Jaganjac with nine goals, followed by David Mandić and Jakov Vranković who each scored five. Aitor Arino scored seven goals for Spain.

Croatia awaits the national team of Tunisia in the final, who defeated Turkey in the semifinals 28:21 (15:18). The final match is scheduled on Sunday, July 1, at 13.00.


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