Day 9 of the European championship saw us back to the Jyske Bank Boxen arena, as Herning will be the center of attention for today. The first match of the day saw Macedonia loosing to Iceland, that moved to a second place in the group 1 with 5 points. In a game of high stakes, it was Iceland that took the victory in the end, with 27:29 the score. Macedonia will rue their missed chances, as the win tonight, could have put them within a prospect of even the semi final, if it comes to head to head duel. With so much to play for it is Iceland that will fight to remain second in the group, and a chance for the semifinal berth. Brave Macedonia having to console with playing for pride, and repeated success of a 5th placement match.
The first half saw a very poor start for Iceland as Macedonia swiftly took a 3:0 lead after five minutes, with Kiril Lazarov looking like he means business. In the next five minutes we’ve seen Iceland get a grip on the match putting an end to the nightmare start; having 2:2 against Macedonia in that period of play, with 5:3 as the overall score in the first 10 minutes. It took 19 minutes for The Vikings’ to level the score, at 7:7; getting their first lead of the match right after for 7:8. Gustavsson comes to play with a penalty save as ‘The Red-Yellows’ now trailing by two, six minutes until the buzzer. Iceland in control, as they grab one more setting the halftime score at 11:14, compensating for a terrible start.
Macedonia drew level only three minutes into the second half with a 3:0 series, setting the score at 14:14
It was 15:15 in the 7th minute of the half, which saw Macedonian goalkeeper Ristovski making a questionable decision of going well out of his area, trying to join the attack catching Iceland off-guard. The effort from Ristovski, stranded mid-court, was immediately punished with an audacious lob from Gudjonsson as Iceland regains the lead at 16:15. Faultless Sigurdsson made it a two-goal lead for Iceland with 43 elapsed from the start, but Macedonia still confident of their chances in this match. Continued perfection from Sigurdsson saw Iceland take four-goal lead, first in the match for 22:26, with 9 minutes to go. Macedonia brought the game back to two goals behind, a little over three minutes until the final whistle, but a bullet from the ever-dependable Lazarov for 27:28, seriously endangered Iceland’s hopes, just 30 seconds until the end. Georgievski practically ended the hopes of his team hitting the crossbar from a clear-cut chance that could have leveled the score in the last seconds of the match. The unexpectedly bad defensive focus from Macedonia allowed Iceland to score a two-goal lead right after time-out, to set the final score at 27:29, with distraught Macedonia even loosing the ball in the final second of the match, and Iceland failing to capitalize on the fast-break.
TEXT: NEMANJA SAVIĆ