This game could not affect the final positions of both teams in Group A, as after two previous matches, Croatia had secured their first place, while Serbia had been eliminated.
Yet Balkan derbies are always hard-fought and exciting, and this one was no exception. While Serbia won the first half, Croatia overcame the deficit after the break to win 24:21.
- Croatia will start the main round with two points
- Serbia finished last in the group with zero points
- Croatia’s goalkeeper Marin Sego became player of the match, making 15 saves
- Domagoj Duvnjak and Luka Stepancic scored five goals each for Croatia
- Bogdan Radivojevic and Lazar Kukic netted four times each for Serbia
Serbia vs Croatia 21:24 (10:8)
It was a matter of honour for Croatia to beat their Balkan neighbours and keep a perfect record in group A, and they did it.
The goalkeeper Marin Sego did an amazing job for the winners, recording 16 saves with 44 per cent efficiency.
His Serbian colleague Vladimir Cupara also did well, especially before the break. While Croatia led for much of the first half, Cupara’ saves helped his team to make a comeback and create a two-goal cushion at half-time, 10:8.
However, Croatia were the better side in the second half. Their defence became rock-solid, as in the two previous games, Sego stopped shot after shot, and Luka Stepancic and Domagoj Duvnjak took the responsibility in attack.
Although Serbia fought back from a five-goal deficit to cut the gap to 19:21, Croatia held their nerve and clinched a victory.
— EHF EURO (@EHFEURO) January 13, 2020
Croatia's coach Lino Cervar said the first half of the match had not been good enough, but he acknowledged that his team improved significantly in the second half.
Serbian goalkeeper Cupara paid tribute to his opposite number.
“I enjoyed every moment of the match. But we lost many balls and missed a lot of chances. Marin Sego did very well in their goal. I’m proud of my team and wish all the best to Croatia. We are a young team and we have a lot to show in future, but we have to be clever in some situations," he said.