Norway survive first half scare to beat hosts Slovakia
A makeshift Norway team, trying to find their footing after being hit by a slew of injuries and retirements, secured a clear 35:25 win against hosts Slovakia, in their debut at the EHF EURO 2022.
Norway vs Slovakia 35:25 (15:11)
- Slovakia remain without a win at the EHF EURO, drawing once and losing nine times in the 10 games they have played in the competition
- Norway enjoyed a lively 3:0 start, but faltered and allowed Slovakia to bounce back, until they deployed another five-goal run, fuelled by two goals from right back Kent Robin Tönnesen, to open a 12:8 lead
- after receiving two suspensions in the first half, left back Sander Sagosen, the top goal scorer at Men’s EHF EURO 2020, had an unusually quiet evening in Košice, scoring only three goals
- the Scandinavian side started the second half with a 7:2 run, that essentially sealed victory, with back Erik Thorsteinsen Toft being responsible for three goals, one of which was clocked at 134.6 km/h, the fastest of the game
- this was Norway’s biggest ever win to start an EHF EURO in history, four goals larger than the previous record, set two years ago, against Bosnia and Herzegovina, 32:26, and their third-largest in the competition – only one goal shy of their record
Norway’s invaluable experience lifts them to big win
Two years ago, Norway lost just once, in the semi-final at EHF EURO 2020 on their way to the bronze medal. This time around, with many new faces in the side, the challenge is likely to be tougher for Christian Berge’s side, as - underlined by the first half against Slovakia - where the Scandinavian side had their own share of trouble.
Eventually, their superior experience proved invaluable, despite a nearly flawless game from Slovakia’s right wing Tomas Urban, who scored six goals – all of which came in the first half.
The hosts remain in pursuit of their first-ever win at an EHF EURO. It could come as early as Saturday, when they face Lithuania in a do-or-die game for their future in the competition. Norway meanwhile are just gearing up in their challenge to win another medal, as they face Russia in their next match.
"It was a hard game, we wanted to play fast and Slovakia also played very fast. We had some trouble in attack and in defence throughout the game, but I am satisfied with the result and it was a good start for us," commented Norway coach Christian Berge.
"As the game progressed, we started to make a lot of mistakes and in a period of six minutes we lost the game, as we conceded too much. It is a pity that we lost by 10 goals, but I am happy that I gave a chance to my younger players,” said Slovakia coach Peter Kukucka.