A series of amazing saves in goal from Ivan Stevanovic has helped Croatia keep their semi-final hopes alive at the EHF EURO 2018.
Croatia, who were playing their second must-win game in a row, defeated World Championship 2017 silver medallists Norway 32-28 in front of 14,000 fans at Zagreb Arena on Saturday night.
Lino Cevar’s side got off to a dream start thanks to Stevanovic in goal as he denied Norway in their opening two attacks.
Stevanovic then made four top saves in a short period of time to help Croatia race out to a 4-point lead in the opening 10 minutes.
Once again Luka Cindric, Zeljko Musa, Luka Stepancic were all clinical in front of goal for Croatia raced to a 12:8 lead.
Norway started to make their way back into the match after the 20-minute mark, narrowing the lead to just 1 point as Croatia turned over the ball too often on attack.
A penalty on the stroke of half-time gave the hosts a 2-point lead at the break – 17-15.
Both teams traded goals in the opening five minutes of the second half as Norway kept in touch.
Croatia stretched the gap to 3 points when Ivan Cupic scored to make it 22-19. Stevanovic, who made a total of 14 saves in the match, then again gave the hosts a boost when he made two saves in quick succession to help stretch the lead to 4 points.
With the Zagreb crowd coming to life, and Cindric, Strlek, and Cupic accurate on attack, Norway were starting to see the match slip away from them as the gap stretched to 5 points for the first time in the match at 29-24.
Croatia would hang on for the victory and now have to recover for facing the tournament favourites next.
Croatia will meet France on Wednesday night in Zagreb. A win would see Lino Cevar’s side reach the semi-final.
Not many goalkeepers would have saved this one on one goal. But Croatian player Stevanovic showed us how to do it!
Have a look!
🇭🇷 @HRStwitt vs 🇳🇴 @NORhandball #CRONOR #ehfeuro2018 #hypnoticgame pic.twitter.com/AWWM84UOba
— EHF EURO (@EHFEURO) January 20, 2018