The highlight of the 2nd day of the men’s tournament at the 35th European Championships was a game in which a winning team celebrated a 16:7 victory.
No, it wasn’t an encounter between a favorite and an underdog. European champion Hungary beat Olympic champion Serbia 16:7 in the derby of Group D. The Hungarians demolished Serbia. The Hungarians produced a 7:0 series in the middle of the match to jump from 2:2 to 9:2, which was crucial for the outcome. Until today, Serbia never suffered a nine-goal loss at a major tournament.
It’s almost certain that Hungary will finish in 1st place in Group D and advance to the quarterfinals, while Serbia will have to play in the crossover round.
Serbia’s rival in the crossover round will be the third-placed team in Group B. It will be Greece or France.
Croatia recorded a big 13:7 victory over France in the other big match of the second competition day and secured at least second place in Group B.
The most exciting match of the day was an encounter between Spain and the Netherlands. The world champions recorded a narrow 11:10 victory, which was enough for them to cement 1st place in Group C. Romania convincingly defeated Germany – 11:4 in the second match in this group, which means that the Germans lost all chances to qualify for the crossover round. They will play for the classification 13th-16th place. Romania and the Netherlands will battle for 2nd place in the group in their clash on Friday.
Day 2, results – Group A: Montenegro – Slovakia 18:10, Italy – Georgia 18:8, Group B: Greece – Malta 25:6, Croatia – France 13:7, Group C: Netherlands – Spain 10:11, Romania – Germany 11:4, Group D: Serbia – Hungary 7:16, Israel – Slovenia 9:5.
Montenegro – Slovakia 18:10 (4:1, 5:6, 6:1, 3:2)
Montenegro didn’t play well, and had ups and downs, but it achieved a convincing win.
The Montenegrins’ start was very good. They earned a 4:0 lead. However, at the end of the first quarter, their play started falling apart. Slovakia leveled at 5:5 already in the 3rd minute of the second quarter. Mrsic gave Montenegro a 6:5 lead, but shortly after, Caraj equalized at 6:6.
At halftime, Montenegro led 9:7. The Slovaks halved the deficit (8:9) early in the third period.After that, the Montenegrins found their rhythm and scored eight goals in a row for a 17:8 advantage and secured a big win.
Kanstantin Averka led Montenegro’s attack with five goals.
Italy – Georgia 18:8 (4:1, 5:2, 6:4, 3:1)
Georgia didn’t surrender without a big battle, but Italy controlled the match and had a nice 9:3 lead at halftime. Georgia scored five goals in the second half, but it never endangered Italy’s victory.
Jacopo Alesiani scored four and Edoardo Di Somma three goals.
Standings: 1. Italy 6, 2. Montenegro 6, 3. Georgia 0, 4. Slovakia 0.
Croatia – France 13:7 (2:3, 2:1,5:1, 4;2)
After a draw in the encounter between Greece and France played on Day 1 (11:11), many believed that the second derby in this group, Croatia – France, would be exciting and open until the end.
France proved its quality, but the French ran out of energy after the middle break. Croatia recorded a convincing victory.
The first period belonged to the French (3:2). Ugo Crousilat doubled their advantage from a penalty shot in the 10th minute. They controlled the game for almost a quarter and a half. The Croats couldn’t find their rhythm; they missed several nice chances. However, midway through the second quarter, Croatia became the team that dictated the pace. Andrija Basic leveled at 4:4 from a distance with 32 seconds left on the clock in the first period.
The second half was a completely different story. Croatia, supported by several thousands of fans, opened the third period with a goal from a counterattack (Kharkov). Immediately after, France earned a penalty shot. However, Marko Bijac saved a shot from Mehdi Marzouki. Bijac posted nine saves today. He was outstanding in the third period and boosted his teammates’ self-confidence in the interval of the game when Croatia broke France. In the middle of the quarter, Zuvela gave Croatia a 2-goal lead for the first time (6:4).
Bjorch converted a man-up for 5:6. But that was a slim hope for the French. Croatia ruled the field in the second half. The hosts’ defense, commanded by Bijac, was up to the task, and the players did their job well in the attack. The hosts produced a 6:0 rush. They earned a 12:5 lead, and there was no way back for the French.
Ivica Tucak, Croatia’s head coach in an interview for LEN TV said:
“This was a very important match. That was one of the reasons why we didn’t play as we could and should in the first half. But we played a beautiful game in the third and fourth period. Now, we have to prepare well for another big challenge and a match against Greece.
Florian Bruzzo, France head coach:
“Of course, I can be satisfied after a 6-goal loss, although we were defeated by an excellent team. Congratulations to Croatia. We have to learn from the defeats like this.
Greece – Malta 25:6 (8:1, 6:2, 4:1, 7:2)
Greece did a clean job against Malta. The Olympic silver medalists needed less than five minutes to earn a 6:0 lead. In the middle of the second quarter, the Greeks already had a double-digit lead (12:2) and didn’t slow until the end because a goal difference may be important in this group.
Stylianos Argyropoulos contributed to the win with seven goals, and Konstantinos Genidounias added five.
Interestingly, Greece didn’t score a goal with a man-up. Malta committed six personal fouls, but five of these were fouls for penalty shots. Greece converted all of the five, while it didn’t score with its only power play advantage. Malta’s conversion of 6 on 5 shots was 2/7.
Standings: 1. Croatia 6, 2. Greece 4, 3. France 1, 4. Malta 0.
Netherlands – Spain 10:11 (3:3,0:4,4:2, 3:2)
Spain led for most of the time, but everything was open until the very end,
The world champions scored two goals in the first minute. Munarriz made it 1:0 with a long-distance shot, and Perrone found the net from a counterattack. But, the Dutch leveled at 2:2. Tahull gave Spain a 3:2 lead, and Koopman equalized immediately. Spain had a double man-up in the dying seconds of the first period. Granados had his close-range shot blocked, so the sides went to the first break tied at 3:3.
An even contest continued after the first break. Granados broke the deadlock only in the fifth minute of the second period by converting a penalty shot. But, the Spaniards netted three more unanswered goals before the middle break, they went to 7:3, and it seemed that they had broken the Dutch’s resistance.
Still, the team of the Netherlands was able to come back. they halved the deficit in the third period (5:7, 6:8, 7:9). In the 28th minute, Muller converted a 6 on 5 and the Dutch came very close (8:9).
Then, an experienced Felipe Perrone took the match into his own hands. Shortly after Muller’s goal, he found some free space in the 2m line. He scored for 10:8. But the Netherlands earned a man-up in the next possession. Gielen found the net after Koopman’s assist (9:10). The drama continued. The Spaniards rashly started their next man-up attack – Wagenaar saved a shot from Granados. However, after the save, the ball went to Spain. At the end of the attack, Perrone found the net from the deep right – 11:9.
Still, nothing was over yet. Gielen replied with another power-play goal with 02:10 minutes remaining on the clock, and one goal separated the rivals again (10:11).
In the last minute of the game, Larumbe sent the ball into the Dutch’s goal, but it was too late – the time for the attack had expired. Forty seconds before the end, the Netherlands earned another man-up and a great chance to equalize and earn a point. But, Larumbe blocked a shot from Janssen with 23 seconds to go. In the remaining time, Spain kept the ball and a hard fought win.
Spain’s legend Felipe Perrone and the Dutch Lucas Gielen were the best scorers. Each found the net three times.
Spain’s coach David Martin said that the win was the most important thing and praised the Netherlands:
“The Netherlands played very well. We didn’t show our best performance. We had some mistakes in the attack, but in the defense too. We have to fix these mistakes and play better in the next games.”
Harry van der Meer, the Dutch coach, said that he had to be happy because his team had played a very good game against the world champion. However, he wasn’t satisfied with his team’s play:
“We played in a very lazy way in the first two periods. Because of that, we had to work hard to come back into the game. We managed and added some power to our play in the second half. I’m a little bit angry because we could earn a point, but we didn’t manage to score with a man-up at the end of the game.
Romania – Germany 11:4 (2:2, 3:1, 3:0, 3:1)
Romania proved far better than Germany and secured a spot in the crossover round.
The Germans were an equal opponent only in the first quarter. They led just once (2:1). Romania responded with two goals and went in front 3:2. Germany leveled at 3:3 in the 11th minute. But, then Romania kept its rival goalless for 14 minutes. The Romanians jumped to 8:3 before the last break. Germany played very confusedly in the attack, and there were too many lost balls and wrong passes. The only Germans’ goal in the second half came in the 25th minute when Schutze converted a penalty (4:8). After that, the Romanians netted three goals for a comfortable 11:4 victory,
Tudor Fulea, who scored five goals, was the man of the match.
As for the statistics, Germany hasn’t scored a goal with an extra player in Split yet. Their conversion in the first match against the Netherlands was 0/7. Today, it was even worse (0/8). Romania had a very good percentage of extra player shots (4/6).
Standings: 1. Spain 6, 2. Netherlands 3, 3. Romania 3, 4. Germany
Serbia – Hungary 7:16 (2:3, 0:4, 2:4, 3:5)
Only the opening minutes of the game produced a balanced battle. Hungary took a one-goal lead twice (1:0 and 2:1). Strahinja Rasovic leveled on both occasions. His second goal came from a penalty in the 6th minute. Burian gave Hungary a 3:2 lead before the first break.
From the second quarter, the Hungarians dominated. They played disciplined, while Serbia made too many mistakes both in defense and attack, and the match turned into a one-sided contest. At halftime, Hungary led 7:2 and added two goals in the third period for 9:2. Drasovic ended Serbia’s goalless phase that lasted for 14 minutes scoring for 3:9, but It was clear that Serbia couldn’t come back.
The Hungarians were scoring from different positions, and didn’t let Serbia make many chances in their attack. All in all, they were far better rivals today in all aspects of the game. In the remaining time, only the winning margin was in question. Hungary didn’t slow and continued dictating the pace to stretch the margin to 9 and recorded one of the biggest wins (maybe the biggest ever) over Serbia.
Krisztian Manhercz led Hungary . He scored four goals from five attempts. Angyal and Konarik added three each. Hungary shut out Dusan Mandic, who didn’t find the net today. Strahinja Rasovic and Radomir Drasovic scored two goals each.
Hungary’s percentage of shots was over 50% (16/31), and Serbia’s was 7/26. Serbia scored only one action goal in the game (the first one for 1:1). The others were with a power play advantage (five) and a penalty shot (one).
“At this moment, I don’t know what happened to my team. it seemed that some of the guys didn’t come to Split. I congratulate the Hungarians; they had an excellent match”, Dejan Savic, Serbia’s head coach said immediately after the game.
Zsolt Varga, Hungary’s head coach
“It was a real big honor for us to play against Serbia with Dejan Savic on the bench. We had a plan, and we followed that plan during the game. Our team played disciplined, with courage, heart, and the right mentality. This was a game between two teams of equal quality, but a match like this can swing in this extreme direction when many smaller details are in favor of only one side.
Slovenia – Israel 5:9 (2:4, 0:0, 2:2, 1:3)
Debutant Israel recorded its first-ever win at the Europeans and practically secured a spot in the crossover round.
Israel stunned the Slovenians with an early 4:0 lead. Slovenia never recovered from that opening shock. It managed to half the deficit before the first break, but it couldn’t come closer. After a goalless second period, Israel built a 3-goal advantage in the third quarter (5:2, 6:3). Slovenia responded after each of the two goals, but the debutant, led by Tamir Fried and Ronen Gros (three goals each), re-earned a four-goal lead in the final period.
Standings: 1. Hungary 6, 2. Serbia 3, 3. Israel 3, 4. Slovenia 0.