Russia secured their first two points of the main round with a 24:23 victory over Montenegro to open group I at the Women’s EHF EURO 2020. The decision came down to the final seconds, with Montenegro one goal behind and in possession – but unable to convert the last attack into a goal.
Russia held on to clinch the win and move up to six points, while Montenegro remain on zero.
Montenegro vs Russia 23:24 (13:13)
- Montenegro goalkeeper Marta Batinovic was the key to the first half, with her eight saves at 42 per cent keeping Russia under control despite some easy goals on breakthroughs in the centre of the court
- after Montenegro created an early lead at 5:2, a run of six unanswered goals from Russia saw the EHF EURO 2018 runners-up claim the advantage, 5:8
- Montenegro took just 90 seconds to equalise again after their scoreless period, and the score was level at the break and as the final 10 minutes of the match started, 20:20
- Russia conceded some easy goals through lost balls in attack and subsequent fast breaks, although Montenegro recorded more turnovers – a key factor in their defeat
- two penalty goals and two fast breaks saw Russia pull ahead by four, 20:24, in the 56th minute – but Montenegro fought back within one goal, for the score of 23:24 as the last 60 seconds began
Record for Radicevic
Stalwart captain and iconic right wing Jovanka Radicevic became the leader on Montenegro’s list of most EHF EURO matches played with the game against Russia, which was her 33rd at the final tournament.
Before Thursday night, Radicevic was level with Milena Raicevic and Marina Rajcic, but now stands alone on top the list.
Just one position behind her is the other half of the wing duo many coaches describe as the best pair in the world, Majda Mehmedovic, with now 32 games at EHF EUROs.
The two combined for six goals in the main round opener and as usual were on court for almost the entire 60 minutes.
Montenegro coach Kim Rasmussen said: "Handball is about small details and I think in the second half those small details didn’t go our way. It’s so easy to decide handball games and you need things to go your way, you need things to be working in the right direction. Those small details that can decide one or two goals so easily were not with us in the second half and that was frustrating because the girls gave everything."
Russia coach Ambros Martin said: "We knew that it was going to be more difficult than the previous, because now we are fighting for something else – the semi-finals are over there.
"We handled it. We fought a lot. We were really mentally strong in the difficult moments. Finally we got the two points, which was very important to make our way along here.”