For their EHF EURO comeback after a 14-year absence, Portugal created a real sensation on Friday night by beating triple EHF EURO champions France.
Sunday night was the time to confirm their good shape against Bosnia and Herzegovina, who lost their first game ever at the EHF EURO to Norway. For the Balkan side, a win was mandatory as a defeat would have weakened their chances to progress to the next stage.
- Portugal take their second victory in EHF EURO 2020
- Bosnia and Herzegovina still have to win their first game in an EHF EURO
- the best scorer for Portugal was Pedro Portela with 10 goals while Nikola Prce netted five times for Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Player of the Match was Portugal’s Alfredo Quintana, who stopped 13 shots with a 36 per cent efficiency
Portugal vs Bosnia and Herzegovina 27:24 (12:11)
Maybe anticipating a future main round spot, or maybe feeling the need to test some players, Portugal coach Paulo Pereira picked a completely different starting seven than two days ago.
It did not seem to alter the dynamics of his team, though, as Portugal took an early three-goal lead. Joao Ferraz was particularly fast out of the block, netting four times on fast breaks in the first 10 minutes.
After an initial 3:0 run, Bosnia and Herzegovina prevented their opponents from moving further away. Nebojsa Grahovac between the posts and Marko Panic’s goals even allowed the Bosnians to level in the 25th minute.
At the break, Portugal were only ahead by one, 12:11, and everything remained open.
The start of the second half was a contest between the goalkeepers from each team, as Grahovac did not concede a single goal for the first eight minutes. Portugal’s Alfredo Quintana also saved important shots and, as a consequence, neither team was truly able to take the upper hand.
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But Portugal’s defence made the difference, blocking every Bosnian attempt to play seven against six and scoring three times in a row in the empty net, each time by Pedro Portela. The right wing gave his team a four-goal advantage with 12 minutes remaining (20:16).
And despite Bosnia and Herzegovina’s best efforts to come back, the Portuguese side remained in control until the final siren. Winning by three in the end (27:24), Portugal now have four points while Bosnia and Herzegovina remain without points, with one game left to play.
Pereira said he had mixed emotions about the game, with the Portuguese defence not functioning exactly as he wished.
Left wing Antonio Areia added: “We knew that it would be a physical match against a powerful Bosnian team. When we were ahead by four goals, we had a weak period but we managed to comeback in the end. But the victory was deserved and not endangered in the end. Our goalkeeper saved brilliantly, and backed by his saves, we pushed them back.”