Netherlands shock for historic win over Hungary
The new Budapest Handball Arena was sold out with 20,022 almost entirely red-clad spectators in attendance for group B’s EHF EURO 2022 opener, but the Hungarian fans left disappointed as the Netherlands snatched the win, 31:28.
The match delivered plenty of drama, as the Netherlands started stronger and left Hungary fighting to come back through the entire game. The EURO co-hosts came within one more than once in the second half but were ultimately outclassed as the Netherlands deservedly earned a critical set of two points on the hunt for their first main round appearance.
Hungary vs Netherlands 28:31 (10:13)
- the Netherlands enjoyed a superb attacking outing, orchestrated by centre back Luc Steins, who dished out eight assists, while Kay Smits top scored for the side with 11 goals and earned the Grundfos Player of the Match award
- inside the final two minutes, the Netherlands were only one in front, at 29:28, after a hard-fought comeback from Hungary spearheaded by backs Mate Lekai and Richard Bodo — but the Dutch scored the final two goals and took the win
- it was something of a nightmare start to the home EHF EURO for Hungary, playing their 65th match in the competition, as they found themselves behind 2:5 at the 10-minute mark and 5:10 in the 20th
- Hungary line player Bence Bánhidi and goalkeeper Roland Mikler — two of the most important stars for the side — were below their best early on and were rotated off by the 15-minute mark, with the entry of Márton Székely proving key as he notched up four saves at 50 per cent to help the EURO co-hosts decrease the deficit by half-time and play a much closer second period
- with the win, the Netherlands took their EURO record to two victories in four matches, after they debuted at the tournament in 2020 and took one win against Latvia. It was the fourth encounter against Hungary and the first victory against the side for the Netherlands
Spectacular Steins and Smits
What a shock the Netherlands delivered on the opening night in Budapest Handball Arena — and it was clearly led by two standouts: backs Luc Steins and Kay Smits.
The two have become well-known names in handball in recent years and will surely have grabbed the attention of more fans — and their upcoming opponents — with their performances in round 1. Smits duly delivered as a key shooter and was certainly instrumental in the victory, while Steins was incredible with his direction in attack, his injections of speed into the game and impressive breakthroughs, and his assists.
"We are really satisfied with the victory here today. Of course this is a big win for Holland in one of the greatest handball halls in Europe, with 20,000 spectators in a tough game against Hungary — one of the strongest European handball nations. So of course we have to say this is a historic win for us.
"I have to also give a big compliment to the players, who controlled the game. We were in the winning position from the first minute to the end and that’s a big compliment to the team," said the Icelandic coach of the Netherlands, Erlingur Richardsson.
"It was a well-deserved victory for them. We were very nervous this evening and this was not us, generally. We couldn’t stand up from this position and we couldn’t relax our players and it meant a loss for us. I hope that our next match we can cope with this pressure in this huge atmosphere," commented Hungary coach Istvan Gulyas.