For the first time ever, Slovenia have won four games in a row at the EHF EURO, after their dominant 30:27 performance against Iceland.
The Slovenians are growing from dark horses to medal favourites, thanks to their defensive excellence and finding ways to win games surprising their opponents.
- the best ever Slovenian winning streak was set at the EHF EURO 2006, when they won all three games in the preliminary round, but lost the next three in the main round
- Dean Bombac earned the Grundfos Player of the Match award, after scoring nine goals, assisting another 10 and stealing two balls in defence
- goalkeeper Klemen Ferlin also had a superb match, saving 15 shots for a 38 per cent save efficiency
- Slovenia will face Hungary on Sunday, while Iceland meet Portugal
Slovenia vs Iceland 30:27 (15:14)
Slovenia’s win means they have not only racked up a four-game winning streak for their first time ever at the EHF EURO, but it also means that Ljubomir Vranjes’ side are with a big shout for a berth for the final weekend in Stockholm.
The game could not have started better for Slovenia, as they jumped to a 7:2 lead after 12 minutes, on the back of a 5:0 run that prevented Iceland from scoring for eight minutes and 36 seconds.
The main reason behind the Slovenian surge was surely Dean Bombac, as the creative playmaker did everything both in attack and in defence. He scored twice, assisted two other goals and got two steals to set up unstoppable fast breaks converted by Blaz Janc.
It all looked over for Iceland, who could not find their groove, despite an early Gudmundur Gundmundsson timeout.
But then Iceland roared back.
They set up their own 4:0 run to tie the game at 9:9 and even took the lead for the first time after 24 minutes, 12:11, with their defence amping up the pressure.
Goalkeeper Viktor Gisli Halmgrimsson was critical to the run. The young second-choice shot-stopper was in superb form, saving three penalties out of six during the match against Slovenia to take his tournament tally to five – an overall penalty save efficiency rate of 56 per cent.
Yet there was no stopping Bombac, who played like a man possessed. There were not only breakthroughs, superb assists and powerful shots, but his impact to the Slovenian side was next to none, as Iceland’s defence constantly shifted towards him.
Slovenia came back after the break determined, and limited Iceland to only five goals in the first 18 minutes of the second half. Bombac just did his thing, scoring five of his nine goals in the second half and, across the match, assisting another 10 on his way to the Player of the Match award.
It was not for the lack of trying, as Iceland attempted to mount a comeback, but they just fell short by three goals and must regroup before playing Portugal on Sunday.
Slovenia right back Jure Dolenec described the match as a "complete performance".
"Dean was leading the attacking perfectly – scoring goals, making assists. This is the biggest power of our team. In every game, another player can decide the game," he said.
"Maybe we don’t have the big star, the top five players in the world, but we have a lot of great players. We just need to keep on with the good work, and for now it’s going great for us," Dolenec added.