17/01/2018

Biggest ever win earns Slovenia main round place

GROUP C REVIEW: Slovenia snapped a record seven-game winless run, to proceed to the main round group in Varazdin, after the win against Montenegro, 28:19

Marko Bezjak was awarded Best player of the match as he led Slovenia to cruise past Montenegro with five goals. Photo: Nebojsa Tejic

The Slovenian side lost the first game against FYR Macedonia by the slightest of margins, while the game against Germany saw them tied in the last second, after the Reichmann's penalty. But Veselin Vujovic’s side overcame the drama from the first two games and earned their first win of the EHF EURO, 28:19 (14:13), against Montenegro, earning a main round berth.

The President of Slovenia Borut Pahor paid a visit to the Arena Zagreb to support his national team.

The Slovenian side, who stopped a seven-game winless run in the EHF EURO, will start the next phase with their only point won against Germany, while winless Montenegro lost their third game in a row and are eliminated.

"Just like the other two games, we played well the first half, but in second half it did not go well. We gave everything that we could but that just was not enough. We are going home, but this was a good school for us and we need to learn from this so we could be better in the future,“ Milos Vujovic said. 

A draw would have sufficed Slovenia to earn a main round berth, while Montenegro needed their first ever win in the EHF EURO to proceed to the next phase.

The sheer emotion was in the air in the opening minutes, as both teams struggled to leave their opponents behind, with several turnovers preventing that to happen.

However, it was Slovenia who drew first blood, thanks to experienced playmaker Marko Bezjak, who saw Veselin Vujovic’s side earn a 8:6 lead after 17 minutes.

But Montenegro did not sit and watch, as the four goals scored by Vasko Sevaljevic converted Toulouse’s left back in the top goalscorer of the Montenegrin side at the EHF EURO, with 36 goals.

As the Montenegrin side was heading for a half-time lead, a flurry of turnovers prevented that to happen, with Slovenia taking a 14:13 lead at the break, after left wing Milos Vujovic missed the fast break in the dying seconds.

Marguc shines for Slovenia

There were two totally different sides coming from their dressing rooms, with a much more motivated Slovenia throwing off the second half in style.

Line player Blaz Blagotinsek and right wing Gasper Marguc were responsible for spurring a 7:3 partial that proved to be unassailable, as Slovenia opened up a healthy 21:16 gap with 16 minutes to go.

With Montenegro seeing their hopes quashed, Slovenia ran havoc and jumped to a 28:19 win, their biggest ever in the EHF EURO, a two-goal improvement from the 27:20 recorded against Serbia and Montenegro in 2004.

As Slovenia snapped their record seven-game winless streak, Vujovic’s side won their main round berth, the first after six years.

“It the first half we were still focused on the things that are not handball. In the second half, we raised our level in defence, started to run and to score easy goals – after that it was much easier. Now that we saw which teams are in the second round, we are even more sorry that we didn't win against Germany and Macedonia as those games were so close in result," Marguc said.

“If we continue to play like we played in the last two games we can beat anybody!“ he added.

Main round’s Group II looks to be an extremely balanced one, with FYR Macedonia leading the way with three points, followed by Germany, Spain, Denmark and the Czech Republic with two points, while not all is lost for Slovenia, who are last, with one point.

written by Adrian Costeiu / br