Denmark were stunned by a superb Czech Republic side, as the tournament's outsiders snatched one of their biggest ever wins in the EHF EURO, 28:27 (15:16), thanks to an amazing outing from goalkeeper Martin Galia, who boasted a 17-save game.
However, the Nordic side is through to the main round alongside Spain, as the Czech Republic and Hungary will battle it out on Wednesday for the last qualifying place.
"It's amazing, I still don't believe that we won this game, we are still shocked. It's the biggest win in my life. We had fun in this game, played without any expectations, played our best game and in the end finished with a big win," Stanislav Kasparek said.
If Denmark had thought they would have an easy game against the Czech Republic, after their opponents lost by a record 17-goal margin against Spain two days ago, the Nordic side was mistaken.
A great start for Anders Zachariassen in his maiden EHF EURO game saw Denmark take a wrecking 6:3 lead after the 26-year old line player scored four times in the space of 10 minutes.
But a rejuvenated Czech side kept their emotions in check, preventing the Danish team to score for five minutes and ten seconds, while scoring three goals to take an outstanding 11:10 lead.
As Mikkel Hansen struggled, missing a penalty and turning the ball over twice, a furious Nikolaj Jakobsen called a time-out which did not see the situation change.
It was a collective Danish defensive effort, highlighted by Nicklas Landin’s saves, that saw the Nordic side turn the game on its head, with Denmark taking a hard-fought 16:15 lead into half-time.
Huge game from Galia lifts the Czech Republic
For the first 15 minutes of the second half, Denmark looked in control, although Martin Galia started to frustrate the Danish attackers, racking save after save.
But their three-goal lead was quickly wiped out, thanks to playmaker Ondrej Zdrahala. Donning the Czech shirt for the 100th time in his career, Zdrahala was virtually unstoppable, scoring eight goals from every position, to tie the game, 24:24, with nine minutes to spare.
Denmark’s experience should have decided the game, but Mikkel Hansen’s nervousness rubbed off on his teammates, as the Czech Republic took the lead for the first time in the second half in the 55th minute, 26:25.
As Galia, who ended the game with 17 saves, continued to shut down the Danish attempts, the Czech team showed enormous grit and sheer calm to close the game, 28:27, 48 hours after their worst ever loss in the competition, against Spain.
"I don't think anyone expected this. We didn't expect this to happen. We have a lot of respect for every opponent but we didn't expect this to happen today. This is mostly our fault, it is about us, about our game. We were not ready to play this game the way we should have, we maybe underestimated Czechs today, we were not ready to fight like we fought before," the Danish line player Henrik Mollgaard.
In a baffling turn of way, Denmark are through to the main round phase, thanks to their 32:25 win against Hungary in the previous round, while the Czech Republic are facing elimination from the EHF EURO 2018 if they lose against Hungary on Wednesday.