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12.01.2012, 13:06
Ilic and Stanic steer Serbia to victory
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A passionate 5000 crowd celebrates win in the last test match of the hosts prior to the start of the EHF EURO 2012.
 

Ilic and Stanic steer Serbia to victory

Serbia produced their best performance of the build-up to EHF EURO 2012 with an emphatic 26:21 win against the Czech Republic on Wednesday in their final warm-up for the tournament, which starts on Sunday.

Roared on by a passionate 5,000 crowd in Belgrade’s Pionir hall, one of the five EHF EURO 2012 venues, the European Championship hosts dominated proceedings from start to finish thanks to effervescent performances from goalkeeper Darko Stanic and left back Momir Ilic.

Stanic thwarted the Czechs time and again with a string of superb saves, having stopped 17 shots, while Ilic completely overshadowed his THW Kiel team-mate Filip Jicha and finished as the game’s top scorer with seven goals.

Frustrated by a poor evening by his standards, Czech sharpshooter Jicha at one point squared off with Serbia’s veteran playmaker Dalibor Cutura and only a prompt and amicable reaction by Serbia’s pivot Rastko Stojkovic prevented tensions from boiling over.

An iron-clad 6-0 defence and lightning breaks allowed Serbia to race into a 9:4 lead after 12 minutes, as the Czechs had no reply for the EHF EURO 2012 host nation’s intricate and swift passing.

But Serbia’s attack came to a screeching halt in the closing stages of the first half and the Czechs took full advantage to cut the deficit to 14:12 at the interval.

The game seemed to be heading for a dramatic finale when the visitors reduced the arrears to 16:15 early in the second half, but a 6:2 run by the Serbs put the game beyond doubt before Jicha lost his nerves and earned a two-minute suspension.

He returned to action and scored after a fast break but it was Stanic who received a standing ovation from the appreciative home crowd in the 57th minute, when he made way for reserve goalkeeper Strahinja Milic.

Stanic said Serbia’s opening Preliminary Round Group A game against Poland was essential for the host nation’s chances of winning a medal on home soil. "It is very likely to set the tone for the rest of our campaign and hence it is vital that we make a winning start," Stanic told reporters after the match.

"We had lapses in concentration against the Czechs but overall we are delighted with our performance because we played well at both ends of the court," he said.

"We have to take it one game at a time in the European Championship and personally, I think we ought to reach the final."

Serbia coach Veselin Vukovic was also pleased with the outcome. "We controlled the match from start to finish and that is very encouraging ahead of the real thing," he said.

"We now have three days to relax ahead of the game with Poland, we still need to polish up a few details but the most important thing is that we have discovered our ability to beat strong teams like the Czechs," Vukovic said.

Further information

Download the Official EHF EURO 2012 Playing Schedule (pdf)

Buy your EHF EURO 2012 tickets HERE.

Ticketing is managed by the Serbian Organising Committees. Should you need further assistance for buying your tickets, please contact via email: tickets@rss.org.rs

Find more information on the tournament on the official website www.ehf-euro.com/SRB2012/

Join the growing community of fans of the event on Facebook www.facebook.com/SRB2012


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic
 
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