11/01/2020

Montenegro claim historic win as Serbia eliminated

GROUP A REVIEW: Nebojsa Simic’s saves were the key to Montenegro’s first ever victory at the EHF EURO tournaments

Nebojsa Simic was essential as Montenegro finally claimed their hoped-for EHF EURO win. Photo © Jozo Cabraja / kolektiff

This is the fifth EHF EURO for Montenegro starting from 2008, yet the team could not win any of 16 previous games as they recorded one draw and 15 defeats.

But now Zoran Roganovic’s side wrote history as they defeated Serbia in an extremely hard-fought battle, 22:21.

  • Montenegro have two points after two games, just like Belarus who they will face on Monday
  • Serbia sit bottom of group A with zero points and have lost a chance to go through
  • Montenegro's win means Croatia progresses to the main round
  • Montenegro’s goalkeeper Nebojsa Simic was player of the match
  • Nemanja Grbovic was Montenegro’s top scorer with five goals; Lazar Kukic netted six times for Serbia

GROUP A

Montenegro vs Serbia 22:21 (11:10)

It was a game where defence prevailed over attack, and the goalkeepers of both teams were brilliant, especially in the second half.

Serbia’s Tibor Ivanisevic made 11 saves and even scored one goal, yet it was not enough for Serbia who are eliminated from the competition following their second straight defeat.

And his Montenegrin colleague Nebojsa Simic recorded nine saves, most of them in the crucial phase of the game.

His team got off to an excellent start, leading 4:1 by the ninth minute thanks to good defence, a few saves by Simic and a couple of goals by captain Vasko Sevaljevic.

Serbia hit back to draw level 9:9, yet Montenegro had the upper hand at half-time after Stevan Vujovic put them in front, 11:10.

A string of Ivanisevic saves helped Serbia to take initiative and establish a three-goal lead (16:13) ten minute into the second half.

Yet then it was Simic who came to the fore with his brilliance. His teammates also did well in attack, and Mirko Radovic made the score 22:20 nearly two minutes from full-time.

The only thing Serbia could do was to score in the last second, so Montenegro jumped for joy after the buzzer, and now they are looking forward to a do-or-die match against Belarus.

Montenegro coach Zoran Roganovic said the evening was "indescribable".

"It was not a beautiful handball, but the game was so important that the teams forgot how to play in attack. We had many problems, but also made them for Serbia. We made some changes, and our goalkeeper Simic had an extraordinary last quarter of the game. I’m so proud of my guys," he said.

Simic said: “I am really tired now: I jumped around the court, I jump with the fans now. I spent a lot of physical and emotional power. But it was worth it. It was amazing."

written by Sergey Nikolaev / jh