An inspired performance from 40-year-old goalkeeper Martin Galia blew preliminary group B wide open as the Czech Republic came back to beat North Macedonia in Vienna.
The veteran Czech stopper’s 14 saves (38 per cent efficiency) proved to be the difference in a match that exploded into the life in the second period.
- both nations now tied on two points in group B
- 40-year-old player of the match Galia paves way for Czech victory with 39 per cent save ratio
- North Macedonia’s Kiril Lazarov hit 11 goals from 13 shots to break into top eight of the all-time EHF EURO goalscorers list
- Czech Stanislav Kasparek scored six second half goals (88 per cent efficiency)
- 32 goals scored in a breathless second half (20 in the first half)
Czech Republic vs North Macedonia 27:25 (9:11)
In the first half, neither side threatened to open up more than a two-goal advantage, but that was down to the acrobatics of Martin Galia in the Czech Republic goal.
The experienced stopper proved his worth throughout a tense and occasionally scrappy first half hour with a string of important saves to thwart the Macedonians.
However, despite a first-half 39 per cent save ratio, Galia could not prevent North Macedonia from leading at the break. Kiril Lazarov, the hero of their last-gasp win over Ukraine on Friday, scored four goals in the first half to take him into the top 10 of all-time goalscorers at the EHF EURO.
That lead did not last long and seven minutes after the restart the pendulum swung in Czech’s favour thanks to that man Galia. The goalkeeper made two breathtaking stops that his side look full advantage of, and by the 37th minute the Czech Republic led by three.
Behind, the Macedonians needed a response and a quick-fire double from Lazarov helped close the gap but Galia continued to perform miracles in the Czech goal to help restore the Czech’s three-goal lead with Stanislav Kasparek doing the business by scoring goals at the other end.
The Czechs briefly led by four – the biggest lead of the game – but, within five minutes that advantage had been completely wiped out as the Macedonians stormed back to draw level with Lazarov, again, at the heart of things. With his 11 goals in the game he climbed up to the eighth position in the all-time scorers list and, with 179 goals he is just three goals shy of the current Czech head coach Jan Filip in seventh.
It was end-to-end with the difference just one goal in the frantic final minutes as the decibel level inside the arena rose to deafening levels with the Macedonians desperate to draw level.
However the last word was reserved for Galia as his spectacular stop in the dying seconds sealed a crucial win for the Czechs in their quest to qualify for the main round.
— EHF EURO (@EHFEURO) January 12, 2020
Daniel Kubes said afterwards: "It makes us so happy that we managed to win tonight. It was an important match for us, we were under a lot of pressure to win and the guys tried everything they could – and in the end they did. The result is fantastic for us.”