France ease to first EHF EURO 2022 win against Croatia
France were unbeatable against Croatia on Thursday. Only conceding five goals in the opening 20 minutes, “Les Bleus” took control of the game pretty early, as the Croatian players piled up passes without ever finding solutions in attack.
And not only did the French defence shine, but Vincent Gerard also had a brilliant evening, piling up eight saves before the break to help his team take a crucial advantage. The Paris Saint-Germain player added another eight in the second half.
Croatia vs France 22:27 (11:13)
- perfectly set defensively, France took the upper hand right from throw-off. From three goals five minutes in, their advantage went up to five after 10 minutes, when Dika Mem scored his third personal goal on a fastbreak
- Croatia were quick to react and, making the most of the French turnovers and pushed by their fans, they came back within two at the break
- in a tense second half, during which David Mandic was handed a red card, France never lost focus. Still relying on defence and on Hugo Descat’s efficiency on seven-metre throws, they never let Croatia come back
- Grundfos Player of the Match was France’s Dika Mem, who scored six goals
- with zero points, Croatia will face Serbia on Saturday in a game that will be for the main round qualification, while France will play against Ukraine
What a first for Karl Konan
Only three international games seem to have been enough for Karl Konan to learn the tricks to excel in an EHF EURO. The young left back might have the huge task to replace Luka Karabatic in the centre of the French defence, but it does not seem to scare him so much. Either upsetting Croatian shooters or stealing balls from the line players, the 26-year-old showed he was not afraid of the big scene. Konan might not have been in the spotlight, but his performance was key for France on Thursday.
“You can win competitions by playing well in defence. It’s always hard to play against a team such as Croatia, but I’m happy because we played really well. We had to make some adjustments during the preparation with Luka Karabatic being absent, but the newcomers played very well tonight. The crowd was clearly backing up Croatia so that made our performance even more special,” stated French goalkeeper Vincent Gerard.
Croatian right wing Ivan Cupic commented: "Against France it is always hard to play. We played bad in the first 10 minutes and it feels like we carried that all the way."