BUDAPEST, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Croatian players earned an epic victory against Iceland, while Denmark and France both celebrated victories here on the 11th day of the men's handball EURO 2022 in Hungary.
Croatia fought a brave battle against Iceland on Monday after losing the previous three matches in Group 1.
Croatian goalkeeper Ivan Pesic blocked every single shot in the last seven minutes of the game, securing the 23-22 win.
Fresh from their surprise win over Olympic champion France, Iceland controlled the first half, even leading by five goals, thanks to Viktor Hallgrimsson's outstanding performance.
However Croatia regained the momentum in the second half and clinched the victory in a game that could have been well won by both teams.
"It's always a fantastic feeling to win the game. It was a tough game between two teams hit by Covid. We knew that Iceland has a big heart, a tremendous team spirit, and I think we showed also today how we fight for Croatia," Croatia coach Hrvoje Horvat said after the game.
"It was a very tough game. We are of course very disappointed because in the end, we had the chance to win the game, but we did not score from clear chances two times in very, very important moments," said Iceland coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson. "This tournament has been, for us, very strange, regarding all these Covid-19 issues with our players and we will have to see how we continue. Maybe, in the end, the team that wins has the least Covid in their ranks."
The next match played in Budapest was not at all level as Denmark thrashed the Netherlands 35-23 (21-12) becoming the first semifinalist.
The one-sided game meant that the Netherlands are now officially out of the semifinal race.
"This is our third semifinal in the last year, and this is new for us. It's great, it means that we can stay at the top and play very well in the long term. We have won all the games so far, this tournament has had a lot of ups and downs, but we managed to get through it so that's good," Denmark coach Henrik Mollgaard said after qualifying for the semi.
In the third encounter of the day France defeated Montenegro 36-27 (12-16). Although the Montenegrins gave spectators some excellent goals, they trailed the French during the whole game.
France will meet Denmark while Iceland will play Montenegro on Wednesday. If France win or draw, they will be through to the final weekend no matter Iceland's result. If Iceland win and France lose, the Nordic team will follow Denmark to the semifinals. If both France and Iceland are defeated, France will progress.