Hungary missed a huge chance to get closer to the first EHF EURO semi-final berth in history, after failing to Sweden 18:24 in a low-scoring game featuring two great goalkeepers.
Hungary’s loss is also Norway’s gain; the win, coupled with Norway’s earlier victory against Iceland, means the unbeaten side progress to the semi-finals.
- Hungary face Portugal tomorrow in a must-win game, while Sweden finish the main round against Iceland
- if Hungary win against Portugal and Slovenia lose against Norway, Hungary will progress to the semi-final for the first time in history
- Sweden will not make the trip to Stockholm for the final weekend, as they cannot finish third in the group, regardless of the results of the last round
- Lucas Pellas and Jim Gottfridsson were Sweden’s top scorers, with five goals apiece
Hungary vs Sweden 18:24 (9:10)
It was a matter of pride for Sweden, who, after losing both games in Malmö, were the only side in the group without a point with only two games left.
Yet just nine minutes in, things were gloomy for the co-hosts as Hungary were up 4:2, with left back Zoltan Szita scoring three times. But a 10-minute scoreless stint for the Hungarian side eased the hosts back into the game.
Most of the work was being done by the goalkeepers. Hungary’s Roland Mikler finished the first half with a 47 per cent save efficiency, while his Swedish counterpart, Mikael Appelgren, was not far behind, with 44 per cent.
Therefore, it was little surprise that Sweden were actually up by only one goal, 10:9, in the second-lowest scoring first half in the tournament, only one goal behind the preliminary round game featuring Serbia and Croatia.
For 20 minutes in the second half, Hungary were lagging behind, but always bouncing back. There were lucky rebounds and Swedish turnovers, but there was also Mikler racking up saves.
Hungary’s luck dried up in the final moments, as they failed to impress in attack. The distribution line to pivot Bence Banhidi was cut, Appelgren ended the game with a 38 per cent save efficiency and Hungary simply did not have enough in the tank to take the two points.
Led by playmaker Jim Gottfridsson, who earned the Grundfos player of the match award and scored his 50th EHF EURO goal in this game, Sweden sealed the win in the last 10 minutes.
The 24:18 win was their first in Malmö, but their tournament will be over after the main round, as third place in the group is out of reach.
Hungary live to fight another day tomorrow, against Portugal, when they need a win as well as a loss from Slovenia against Norway.