Not even Portugal’s biggest fan could have thought that their favourites would take such a commanding win against Sweden, 35:25, on Swedish soil.
With three games left in the main round, Sweden’s road to the final weekend seems virtually over, with the hosts in need of three wins and other results going their way if they are to hope.
- Sweden tied their worst loss record in the EHF EURO, as they also lost in 2014 against Poland with the same score, 35:25
- Slovenia and Norway lead the group with four points, followed by Portugal and Hungary. Iceland and Sweden have zero points.
- goalkeeper Alfredo Quintana (11 saves, 38 per cent save efficiency) was the Grundfos Player of the Match
- left back Fabio Magalhaes stood out in attack, with six goals and seven assists
- this was Portugal’s first ever win against Sweden in five tries, as their best result against the current hosts was a five-goal loss
Portugal vs Sweden 35:25 (15:12)
Sweden had never previously lost a game against Portugal before. Their record included three commanding wins at previous EHF EUROs, by an average of six goals per game.
The Swedish side would have loved to keep it that way, but they hit a wall shortly after the throw off.
“We are underdogs, that suits us perfectly,” was the motto instilled by Portugal’s coach Paulo Pereira before the tournament and his side really fought like gladiators throughout the match.
From the get-go, Sweden’s chemistry in defence was off, the attack struggled to get something going and the Portuguese took advantage every way they could.
When goalkeeper Alfredo Quintana was not saving shots, right back Joao Ferraz took control in attack, scoring with his first four shots to inspire Portugal to a 4:0 run that opened a 10:7 lead after 18 minutes.
Indeed, the Portuguese side boasted a 79 per cent shot efficiency after 22 minutes. Sweden had little to no answer to what Portugal brought to the table, with fans in Malmö Arena being as stunned as their team looked on the court.
Left back Kim Ekdahl du Rietz had the fastest goal of the game – 131.9 km/h – but looked out of form, as Portugal capitalised on Sweden’s woes and took a 15:12 lead at the break.
With a strong grip on the game, Portugal even took out their goalkeeper to create a seven-against-six advantage in attack and it paid dividends, as Paulo Pereira’s side jumped to a 24:17 lead with 18 minutes to go.
— EHF EURO (@EHFEURO) January 17, 2020
This was a team effort rather than an individual taking all the plaudits, with 10 different outfield players getting on the scoreboard for Portugal. But left back Fabio Magalhaes really stood out, scoring six times and dishing out seven assists, while playing only 38 minutes, leading Portugal’s way to an amazing and memorable 35:25 win.
For Sweden, the result was equal to their previous worst-ever EHF EURO loss – against Poland in 2014, when the scoreline was also 25:35.
“We didn’t reach the level that we wanted to on our home court, but maybe it was because Portugal did not let us play the way we wanted to play, so a big hand and a big applause for the Portuguese way of playing today," said Sweden assistant coach Mats Olsson afterwards.