Croatia has finished 5th at the EHF EURO 2018 after beating the Czech Republic on Friday.
Croatia, who failed to qualify for the semi-finals after losing to France, bounced back to beat the Czech Republic 28-27 in the 5th/6th playoff in front of 1,500 fans at Zagreb Arena today.
Lino Cervar’s team came out motivated to end the tournament in front of their fans on a high and a quick series of goals saw them race out to a 4-point lead after just 9 minutes (7-3).
Zlatko Horvat, with 5 from 5, helped Croatia stretch the lead in the first half. He was supported by Strlek (4 from 4) and Igor Karacic (3 from 3) as the home side went into the break 16-10 ahead.
The second half started with both teams trading goals early on, and whilst the Czech Republic narrowed the gap slightly to 4 points early on, Croatia was in control.
Top scorer Horvat was in great form, finding the back of the net 10 times. Ivan Stevanovic also was again having a great match in Croatia’s goal, ending with a save rate of over 35%.
Mrkva in the Czech goal gave them some hope as they narrowed the gap, which was at one stage 7 points, to just 1 point with 2 minutes on the clock remaining (27-26).
Croatia managed to hang on for the victory as Horvat converted a penalty with a minute remaining.
Croatia exit the tournament with 4 wins (Serbia, Norway, Belarus and Czech Republic) and 2 losses (Sweden, France).
In tonight’s semi-finals, France will play Spain, whilst Denmark will face off against Sweden. The final will be played on Sunday at Zagreb Arena.