We’re back in Aarhus for the day 10 of the 2014 EHF Euro, with still a lot to be decided in the Group 2. It was that Croatia had more at stake today, after defeat against France had put a dent in their semi-final hopes. The ‘Cowboys’ are also temporarily on top of the group 2 after this routine win, as France play Belarus later today. It’s back to the drawing board for Russia, who is still without points in the group; while Croatia’s semi-final hopes are very much alive, due to the Man of the match performance from Vori and seven goals from Horvat, who’s presence allowed Ivan Ćupić to be rested for later matches, after this convincing 25:33 (11:16) win.
Russia was goalless five minutes into the match, as Croatia scores a 4:0 series off a good defensive impact. It was Horvat with his third goal of the game, which set 2:7 with 10 minutes, elapsed. Lackluster Russia has found themselves in all kinds of trouble mid-way through the first half, with only three goals scored. A brace from Slišković set the margin to 8, with 3:11 the score. With a comfortable score for Croatia, Goluža tried to rest his regulars with a rotation 10 minutes from the half-time whistle with Valčić coming to play with two goals to maintain the lead. It was Valčić that came from hero to a villain, with a techical fault and a turnover, with Skopintsev bringing the difference back to 9:14 in the last five minutes. The last minute of the first half saw Kovalev with a goal to make it a 4-goal difference at 11:15. The in-form winger Horvat scored his 4th goal of the half to set the score at 11:16 as the teams go on a break.
Save from Alilović marked the beginning of the second period, as Croatia was back to finish the job. Kopljar opened the half excellently, brining the difference back to 7 goals, having previously struggled to find shooting form. The amazing Vori scored for 13:21, followed by prolific Horvat, for Croatian team to gain a 9-goal lead in the last 20 minutes. Zlatko Horvat who scored 7 goals today overall was the leading role again, as he scores for 17:25 mid-way through the second half. Poliakov and Skopintsev made it 23:28, a lifeline for Russia as the game goes into the final 7 minutes. Dying minutes of the match saw Croatia taking the steering wheel as an individual effort of 3 goals from Ninčević ruthlessly set the final score at 25:33. In truth it could have gone much worse for Russia, as Croatia was in control throughout, giving their rotation players like Slišković and Valčić a chance to showcase the skills in the national team with more play-time available.
TEXT: NEMANJA SAVIC