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Handball EURO 2020: Croatia into the final after double-extra time victory over Norway

(Photo: Croatian Handball Federation)

STOCKHOLM, 24 January 2020 – Croatia has reached the final of the 2020 European Men’s Handball Championship after a dramatic 29-28 victory over Norway after double extra-time in the semi-final in Stockholm on Friday night.

Both sides were tied after 60 minutes and again after 10 minutes of extra-time before the match would be decided after 80 minutes of play in one of the most dramatic semi-finals in the history of the Euros.

With a large Croatian contingent in the crowd, Lino Cevar’s side started well against the previously unbeaten Norway side and would enjoy an early lead thanks to Marino Maric, Luka Stepancic and Zlatko Horvat. After the opening 20 minutes, Croatia would briefly enjoy a three-goal lead.

In-form goal keeper Marin Sego done his part at the other end in the first half and made six crucial saves as Croatia went into the halftime break 12-10 up. 

For the second time in the match, Croatia led by three goals when Igor Karacic scored at the start of the second half. Croatia had a chance to stretch the lead to four goals when captain Domagoj Duvnjak made a steal and set Karacic free, but his shot would be saved. 

Norway managed to fight back and level at 15-15 and would take the lead after a long time 17-16 with 18 minutes to go in the game. Duvnjak quickly got Croatia back to a two-goal advantage when he made it 19-17. Norway took the lead again with just over six minutes remaining when Karacic had another chance saved. 

(Photo credit: Croatian Handball Federation)

Keeper Matej Asanin then made two crucial 7-metre penalty saves in the final four minutes to give Croatia a chance of victory but they were unable to score on the last attack of the game when the scores were locked at 23-23 and the semi-final would head into extra-time.

Both teams scored just the once in the first five minutes of extra-time and twice each in the second five minutes, with Croatia’s second goal coming in the last second via a Duvnjak penalty, to end tied 26-26 after 70 minutes.

The key moment came when Sego saved a Norway attack with seconds remaining on the clock and the score locked at 28-28. Croatia launched a quick attack and Zeljko Musa would find the back of the net in the last second to give Croatia an incredible win.

Croatia will play the winner of the second semi-final between Spain and Slovenia in Sunday’s final. 

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