Stars leads Denmark to fifth straight victory
Croatia had to show another face tonight, after failing to impress in their first main round game two days. Against Denmark, they made a way better impression but that was not enough to stop Denmark’s winning streak.
As long as the Danes were not able to find solutions to get past the Croatian defence, they were in trouble. But after the break, led by their stars Rasmus Lauge and Mikkel Hansen, they found the key to unlock the Croatian doors and stayed ahead for victory.
- after disappointing in their first main round game against Montenegro, Croatia came out roaring in the first half. After being down by three, they strengthened their defence, helping goalkeeper Mirko Alilovic in the process, to come back within one at the break
- Croatia’s young players made an impact in the first half as the likes of Tin Lucin, Ivan Martinovic and debutant Mateo Maraš all scored – although 31-year-old Marino Maric ended as their top scorer with eight goals
- Croatia kept breathing down Denmark’s neck throughout the second half, but could never manage to catch up. Either Niklas Landin was making a save or Hansen and Lauge were scoring, just enough to keep Denmark out of reach
- having scored eight goals, including six in the second half, Denmark’s Mikkel Hansen was elected Grundfos Player of the Match
- with this win, Denmark are now the sole leader of the group with six points, while Croatia are not yet out of the qualification race, despite having no points
Mikkel Hansen remains the boss
Sometimes, it might look like Mikkel Hansen has taken a step back and is letting Mathias Gidsel take responsibilities. But when Denmark are playing a tough game, Hansen will still remind you he is the boss.
His second half proved to be almost perfect. Not only did he score six in that half alone, but he was involved in every winning action, either delivering an assist or finding the back of the net by himself. It was only logical that he was rewarded with the Player of the Match award.
Our defence did not manage to play that well. Niklas Landin made two really important saves in the end, that’s why sometimes goalkeepers do saves at the right time. He might not have done that many tonight, but they were just when the team needed them. Croatia played some great handball and showed a nice spirit tonight.
With all these changes, it is hard to play your best handball, but we showed we have a big Croatian heart. Today we lose because of the seven against six. I am happy, in a way. I like to play it but it is hard to defend against it. When we have to lose, I’m glad we do it that way.