Maestro Kukic leads Serbia to victory
Several of Serbia’s players stated upon arrival in Szeged that they had gathered a lot of self-confidence during the past two years — and it showed on the court on Thursday night as the team controlled every aspect of their first EHF EURO 2022 game to collect a dominant win, 31:23, versus Ukraine.
Helped considerably by their offensive efficiency, which saw them score on more than 70 per cent of their attacks, the team led by coach Antonio Gerona broke away early and retained their advantage after the break. They even enjoyed the luxury of opening up their bench — a move that could prove to be important before their game on Saturday against Croatia.
Serbia vs Ukraine 31:23 (17:11)
- Serbia proved far superior in the first half of the game. Defensively, they could count on Milan Bomastar’s saves before pushing every action up to their wings
- Darko Djukic, Mladen Sotic and Bogdan Radivojevic scored a combined seven goals in the first half. In their wake, their team took an advantage of six goals just before half-time
- conceding only five goals in the first half of the second period, Serbia broke the 10-goal lead mark 15 minutes before the final siren thanks to an empty-goal shot from Petar Djordjic
- courtesy of this win, Serbia put an end to a series of six defeats that began in the EHF EURO 2020 main round. On the other hand, Ukraine lost their 10th straight EHF EURO game
- Serbia will play against Croatia in a Balkan clash in round 2, while Ukraine will try to take their first points, against France
A masterclass from Lazar Kukic
In the absence of Petar Nenadic, it was time for centre back Lazar Kukic to step up. The SL Benfica centre back proved a real maestro on the court, scoring seven goals and delivering five assists.
The 26-year-old was not only fundamental thanks to his goals — he added some danger on six metres with his passes to the line player, which regularly found open chances for Serbia to shoot. A masterclass performance which earned him the Player of the Match award.
“It was a big win tonight, not only for me but for the whole team. We work a lot, we put a lot of faith in what we do even though we are in a difficult situation. Tonight, we played very good, and now we will rest before thinking about the game against Croatia on Saturday," said Kukic.
“We are a young team, we have a plan for several years, it is not only about this EURO. We do have a lot of work on our hands, everything is ahead of us. Tonight, Serbia were a big opponent, too strong for us, but I am sure we learnt a lot of things in this game," said Ukrainian left back Dmytro Horiha.