After shocking Hungary in round 1, Croatia pulled off an even bigger surprise on Sunday night to close the second round for group C at the Women’s EHF EURO 2020, defeating world champions the Netherlands 27:25 and booking their place in the main round in the process.
It is the first time Croatia have reached the main round at the Women’s EHF EURO since 2010. Meanwhile, the Netherlands are in a very dangerous position with just one game left in the preliminary round and could miss the next stage.
Croatia vs Netherlands 27:25 (13:14)
- Croatia had the stronger start, leading 4:1 after five minutes and maintaining an advantage through to the 23rd minute when Kelly Dulfer pulled the Netherlands level, 11:11, for the first time since the opening
- goalkeeper Tea Pijevic was key for Croatia, making 15 saves at a rate of 38 per cent
- Croatia were first to score after half-time and from there the game remained level, 20:20 in the 45th and 24:24 in the 55th
- Camila Micijevic pulled Croatia in front by two, 26:24, in the 57th minute and the game was won when Larissa Kalaus netted her ninth of the game
- Dulfer and Lois Abbingh led the Netherlands with five goals apiece; Larissa Kalaus top-scored for Croatia with her nine goals and received the Player of the Match award
Watch out for Croatia
Croatia proved their performance against Hungary in round 1, which saw them take a two-goal win and put their first two points on the board, was no one-off surprise. Indeed, they showed a more organised and efficient game against the Netherlands, stepping up a level – or three.
Staying equal with the world champions and EHF EURO 2018 bronze medallists right through to the end, staying calm and making the most of the final chances to clinch the win, Croatia proved they cannot be underestimated as they leave the days of no wins at the final EHF EURO tournament (recorded in 2018 and 2016) behind them.
Croatia centre back Dora Krsnik said: “We didn’t expect this and we fought. Now we are in the main round. We will try to continue this way. Against Serbia, we will do our best. We don’t want to lose anymore. We now have a winning character and we want to continue winning in this European championship.”
France coach Emmanuel Mayonnade said: “We made too many mistakes, again and again and again, to win this kind of match. We missed too many shots. We had six possibilities to be in front by two goals in the last 15 minutes and we missed a pass or missed a shot.”