Croatia show their true face against Hungary on Saturday in Rouen, francehandball2017.com reports.
After the lacklustre performance during the 28:23 win against Saudi Arabia the day before, Zeljko Babic’s kept their clean record by a 31:28 (11:11) win. The burden of missing their injured mastermind László Nagy again was too heavy for the Hungarians, who still wait for their first points after the top clashes against Germany and Croatia.
Group C: Hungary vs Croatia 28:31 (11:11)
According to francehandball2017.com, even without László Nagy (ankle injury), Hungary had built up an extremely solid defensive wall in the first 25 minutes, putting enormous pressure on the Croats. Thus, the team of head coach Zeljko Babic had big problems in scoring, causing a huge number of errors. On the other hand, the Hungarians sometimes were too hectic moving forward, but were in lead until the dying minute of the first half.
When the score read 6:3, Hungary were in full control, and the Croatians lacked ideas. But when Filip Ivic replaced Ivan Stevanovic in the goal, the tide started to turn. His impressive saves and Babic’s tactic to use an additional court player to break the Hungarian wall of concrete after being down 11:7. By netting four unanswered goals, the Croats – boosted by unstoppable wing Manuel Strlek – levelled the score at half-time (11:11) in a fast and furious match attended by 5,588 fans in the Kindarena.
The offical site said, after five minutes without a goal after the break, a rocket from team captain Domagoj Duvnjak provided the Croats with the first ever lead. This fight in a match between two European powerhouses lived up to it’s name literally by the facts that Hungarian Iman Jamali needed to be stitched on top of the eyebrow and Croat Luka Stepancic needed to change his torn shirt – both right after the break.
The momentum now was on the Croatian side, as Ivic still was on fire and the wings Strlek and Zlatko Horvat were flawless. But it took until the 47th minute, when after a double from line player Tin Kontrec and Stepancic gave Croatia their first four-goal gap at 22:18.
Behind the bench, former World Handball Player of the Year, Ivano Balic, was something like an additional coach from the tribune, instructing players and coaches permanently.
Hungary tried hard to return, but had too many turnovers and missed passes – and the time was ticking against them. When Duvnjak stroke to make it 27:22 six minutes before the end, the Croats had paved their path to victory. Luka Cindric decided the game with a breakthrough goal 150 seconds prior to the final buzzer (29:25).
Top scorers were Strlek and Hungarian Harsányi with six goals each.
Post-match reactions and morre informations read HERE.
Photo: MTI/EPA/Yoan Valat