Germany hold off Spain to reach M19 EHF EURO 2021 final
Germany had to withstand a late comeback from Spain to book their place in the final of the M19 EHF EURO 2021 in Croatia with a 31:30 victory.
In the second semi-final on Friday, Croatia beat Slovenia by a more comfortable margin of four goals, 26:22, and the hosts will have the opportunity to win the title in Sunday's final.
- Germany led 29:24 with eight minutes to play but needed a penalty from Tim Freihöfer with 30 seconds left to record a narrow win
- Spain scored at least 30 goals for the fifth time in six games at the M19 EHF EURO 2021 but suffered their first defeat
- Germany goalkeeper David Späth made several crucial stops in the latter stages of the second half
The first M19 EHF EURO 2021 semi-final saw a clash between two unbeaten teams: Germany and Spain. For Spain, who had scored 104 goals in their last three matches, the 5:5 score after seven minutes might have felt like business as usual.
However, a succession of errors for Spain in attack allowed Germany to profit through fast breaks. Germany established a four-goal lead (10:6) when right back Renars Uscins, who failed to score with his first four attempts, scored for the second time.
While Germany’s shot efficiency remained lower than Spain’s in the first half, Germany's significantly higher number of shots went a long way to explaining why they held a three-goal advantage at half-time.
Although Spain enjoyed a strong start to the second half and equalised at 17:17, Germany appeared to have settled the outcome when top scorer Lennart Leitz gave them a 27:22 lead in the 47th minute. There was, however, one more twist in the script as Spain fought their way back into contention.
After Jan Gurri's fourth goal for Spain levelled the match at 30:30 in the 58th minute, Germany received a penalty with approximately 30 seconds remaining. Tim Freihöfer stepped up and scored – but Germany still needed goalkeeper David Späth to see off a direct free throw from Gurri on Spain's final attack of the match.
- Croatia remained in front in the match after establishing a 6:2 lead in the 13th minute
- Mitja Janc scored nine goals for Slovenia and deservedly received the award as his side's best player
- David Jurisic (seven goals), Ivan Barbic and Marin Lisac (both six goals) did the damage for Croatia in attack
Croatia were playing in front of an official crowd of 500 in the second semi-final in Varazdin, but they showed no signs of nerves in the early stages. With David Jurisic and Ivan Barbic both scoring twice and Denis Strasek making five saves, Croatia were ahead 6:2 after 15 minutes.
Mitja Janc, however, proceeded to take it upon himself to fire Slovenia back into contention. With four goals in 10 minutes, Janc reduced Slovenia's deficit to just one goal in the 26th minute.
At the beginning of the second half, Janc continued his superb solo performance for Slovenia, but Croatia right back David Jurisic and left wing Ivan Barbic more than matched him. The combination of David Jurisic's strong individual breakthrough efforts and Barbic's precise finishing from the wing saw Croatia hold a three-goal lead after 47 minutes.
While Slovenia cut the deficit to two goals on several occasions, Croatia's place in the final was sealed when Zlatko Raužan put them ahead 25:22 with just over a minute to play. Marin Lisac's sixth goal of the match, scored inside the final 30 seconds, added icing to Croatia's cake as they completed a 26:22 triumph.
Cross Matches 5-8
Sweden vs Denmark 29:34 (14:18)
Portugal vs Iceland 33:30 (17:13)
Cross Matches 9-12
France vs Italy 30:23 (18:13)
Hungary vs Norway 28:21 (14:8)
Cross Matches 13-16
Israel vs Russia 33:31 (14:18)
Austria vs Serbia 27:33 (11:18)