Sigurdsson’s German side – defending EURO champions – had many more problems than expected to beat Hungary in their opener of Group C in Rouen. Match winners were goalkeeper Silvio Heinevetter (14 saves) and top scorer Uwe Gensheimer (13 goals).
The EURO champions had started with an extremely strong defence including goalkeeper Silvio Heinevetter, who surprisingly replaced EURO hero Andreas Wolff between the posts and reached a saving percentage of 45 per cent in the first half. The reason why the Germans had not gained an even bigger advantage after 30 minutes was that Hungarian goalkeeping veteran Nándor Fazekas was showing a similar performance.
But as his attacking teammates – mainly from back court positions – lacked luck and precision after Germany forged ahead quite easily to a 14:8 lead after only seven minutes.
Even though his father had passed away less than one week ago and he had returned to the team only yesterday, Uwe Gensheimer proved why he is one of the best left wingers and penalty takers in the world of handball. Thanks to seven goals from seven attempts in the first 30 minute, he like Heinevetter, was crucial in the 16:9 scoreline. Hungary were lucky to net twice right before the half-time buzzer.
One premiere in the matches of Group C was the use of the video proof technology by the Macedonian referees Nikolov/Nachevski, who thanks to the technological support saw that the ball making it 9:7 for Germany (Pieczkowski) was indeed behind the goal line.
Things could have changed rapidly after the break, but Hungary could not profit immediately from a nearly two-minute long two-man advantage, but instead missed three chances, including a penalty shot saved by Heinevetter.
The Germans lost their pace. No scoring for eight minutes they opened the gate for the opponents. When Gábor Császár netted for 15:16 (the sixth straight goal for his side), everything was open again.
The Hungarian middle block with Timuzsin Schuch and Patrick Ligetvari (who received a direct red card 25 seconds before the end) controlled the German back court axis, but on the other hand, still Heinevetter had shut up shop. He was the only German player on top level in the first 15 minutes of the second half. After 14 minutes, Gensheimer had stopped his goal-less spell by scoring to make it 18:16, followed by his tenth notch for 22:20 — eight minutes before the end.
Icelandic-born German coach Dagur Sigurdsson extended the risk by continuously replacing the goalkeeper by an additional court player to open gaps in the strong Hungarian defence. But even this measure did not work, as his players had too many technical mistakes in attack.
With exactly four minutes to play, Kai Hafner popped up and netting (24:21) his sixth goal – while Hungarian team captain László Nagy had not played a single minute in the second half. It was close right until the 25:23 with 25 seconds to go.
GER Coach, Dagur Sigurdsson: “We could profit from the fact when Laszlo Nagy was out, and Hungary needed to change their game plan. But we finished the first half poorly and did not start well in the second half. But we did not give the lead from our hands. It was tough and difficult to win the opener.”
László Nagy (HUN):
“I recognised that I injured my ankle. We did not want to take any risk, and now we have to wait to see what the doctors say. In general, I was impressed by our performance, we showed a great fighting spirit. But I am satisfied with the way we played.”
Photo: MTI/EPA/Yoan Valat
Source: Press release – ihf.info