Goalkeeping masterclass lifts Slovakia to historic win
Hosts Slovakia delivered one of their best performances in recent memory, securing both their first win at the EHF EURO and their first in two years, staying in the hunt for a main round berth, with a 31:26 win against Lithuania.
- a masterclass in goalkeeping from Slovakia’s Marian Zernovic, who saved eight shots for an otherworldly 50 per cent efficiency lifted the hosts to a 15:8 lead at the break
- Slovakia’s 4:0 unanswered run between the 18th and the 23rd minutes, when Jakub Prokop scored once and assisted another goals, was the backbone of their first-ever win at the EHF EURO
- this was both Slovakia’s first win at the EHF EURO in 11 attempts, and also their first win in an international match in two years, with the previous victory coming in the IHF Men’s World Championship 2021 qualification against the Faroe Islands, 27:26
- right back Patrik Hruscak, who did not score in his previous four appearances at the EHF EURO, scored six times, while right wing Tomas Urban, who scored seven times, tied coach Peter Kukucka as the second all-time scorer for Slovakia in the competition, with 20 goals
- before their final game against Russia, Slovakia still have chances to progress to the next round, while Lithuania are virtually out of contention before their showdown against Norway on Monday
Lithuania pay big price for hesitant start
Lithuania talked a lot after the first loss at the EHF EURO 2022, 27:29 against Russia, about eliminating the nerves and the over-motivation during the start of the games they play in the competition. However, the Baltic side paid the price once again, after Slovakia took an early 5:2 lead and never looked back, despite a superb performance from star Aidenas Malasinskas, who scored eight times.
Boosted by their amazing fans in the Steel Arena in Košice and with an impenetrable defence at times, spearheaded by the goalkeeping pair of Martin Zernovic and Teodor Paul, who combined for 17 saves – four of which were penalties - and a superb 41 per cent saving efficiency, Slovakia celebrated their first win in 11 tries at the EHF EURO. They showed grit and chemistry as they managed to stop Lithuania’s late comeback and will now fight for a main round berth in the last game against Russia on Monday.
It was a very tough game. Tonight, we made a big step to complete our goal, which is to qualify for the main round, in Bratislava. Our defence was very good, I am very satisfied.
We have to find our game, to feel it better in the start of the game. We have missed our two best central defenders and we needed to adapt, but it was nearly impossible. We had to permanently attempt to come back and it was very difficult to do, it really took a toll. There were too many misses and this is why we lost.