Iceland’s late strike help them reach the semis
A goal scored by Tryggvi Gardar Jonsson, ten seconds from time, awarded Iceland a precious 26:25 win against Croatia and secured them a semi-final spot.
The spectacular finale saw Croatia advancing to the final four as group winners and Iceland finishing second ahead of Bosnia Herzegovina. All three teams had four points, thus the final ranking was decided by the goal differential. Croatia had +4, Iceland -1 and Bosnia Herzegovina -3.
Croatia now plays Greece in tomorrow’s semi-final at 1:45pm, while Israel entertains Iceland in the other semi at 12:10pm.
Iceland seemed like they had the upper hand in the first half and built a three-goal advantage by halftime (14:11). Croatia fought back to reclaim the lead (22:20) with ten minutes still on the clock.
The Icelandic team got in front again, 25:24 at 56’24’’, but Croatia made it all square with Leskovec finding the net one minute and 24 seconds before the end. Jonsson kept it late for Iceland, leaving Croatia only eight seconds to equalize, but their final shot was easily blocked by the defence.
ICELAND – CROATIA 26:25
Scoreline: 3:2, 5:4, 7:8, 8:9, 11-10, 14-11 (halftime) 16:14, 17:18, 19:19, 20:22, 23:23, 26:25
ICELAND (Maksim Akbachev): Sveinsson 3, Gustafsson, Thorisson 2, Haddsson 4, Aronsson, T. G. Johnsson, Palsson, Asthorssοn 3, Oskarsson 8, Vidarsson 2, K. M. Jonsson 3, Gudjonsson, Baroason, Eiriksson 1, Thorstensen, Karlsson
CROATIA (Nino Markovic): Jutrisa 4, Farkas, Lisac 1, Dendo, Svrznjak 3, Grdovic, Neralic 4, Leskovec 7, Salic, Tintor 1, Bakovic, Strkovic 2, Trninic 3, Puric, Turcic, Pandza
Referees: Fotakidis – Kinatzidis (Greece). 2 mins suspensions: 2-2. 7m: 3/3 -2/3
Maksim Akbachev (Coach Iceland): “It was a very tense game, full of emotions, I would say it seemed like a rollercoaster for both teams, who couldn’t hold their lead for much time.
“We slightly changed our defence in the second half and thus managed to win and advance to the semi-finals.
“We need to see Israel’s previous games and get ready for the match that will decide who’s going to play in the final.
Lukas Pandza (Goalkeeper Croatia): “It was a close fight with both teams having their chances to win.
“Now we are facing Greece and we are looking forward to playing against them. May the best team advance. If we win, then gold medal will be within our grasp, but we must take it easy and get ready for tomorrow’s semi-final.”