Netherlands into main round; Portugal out
The Netherlands joined Iceland as the second main round participants from group B when they defeated Portugal 32:31 in the last match of this stage in Budapest on Tuesday night. The Dutch will make their first appearance in the main round after their EHF EURO debut in 2020, when they bowed out in the preliminary round.
For the Netherlands, it was their second victory in three games, and their only defeat came against group winners Iceland by one goal. On the other hand, Portugal end the preliminary round with three straight defeats.
- after trailing for almost the entire game, Portugal almost caused a huge upset as they took the lead for the first time since the opening minutes in the 59th — but it was not enough. The Netherlands scored twice and secured the result that was enough for them to proceed
- the match seemed one of the most one-sided of the whole group B campaign for the majority, with the Netherlands in the lead from the seventh minute on. Their clearest advantage was at five goals, latest at 21:16 in the 34th minute, before Portugal’s tenacious comeback
- both teams’ goalkeepers had great outings, with the Netherlands’ Bart Ravensbergen making 13 saves while Gustavo Capdeville stopped 12 in Portugal’s goal
- Portugal tried both 6-0 and 5-1 defence as they attempted to control the Netherlands’ back court, but they failed. Backs Danny Baijens and Kay Smits still combined for 14 goals while playmaker Luc Steins dished eight assists and also notched up four goals to earn the Grundfos Player of the Match award
- Smits ends the preliminary round as the clear top scorer of the EHF EURO 2022, with 32 goals in three games. With his fourth of the game, he hit 50 EURO goals — the first Dutch player to do so
Icelandic masterminds outplay group B opponents
The two teams through to the main round from group B are led by Icelandic coaches — Iceland by Gudmundur Gudmundsson and the Netherlands by Erlingur Richardsson. Both have been rebuilding their teams for some years, and both have seen their work come to fruition at this EHF EURO.
Richardsson in particular has led his team to incredible progress. It is only their second EHF EURO participation following their debut in 2020 and the third major international championship for the Netherlands, after an appearance in the World Championship way back in 1961.
Two years ago, the Netherlands won one game and placed 17th. This time around, they are largely responsible for the biggest shock of the EURO: Hungary’s elimination. And there is no reason to suspect they will not be highly competitive in the main round.
In the beginning we made too many mistakes, and we wanted a little bit too much. We lost too many balls but after that we continued to run thus, we could score easy goals. At the end Portugal came back to the match but we kept our head cool, and we could win the match.
I think we are all disappointed because we need to make more than we made here. I know Iceland played very good, Hungary play at home and they deserve to win, and today, the Netherlands deserved to win.