Russia secure top spot with clear win against Slovakia
Slovakia’s dreams to progress to the main round phase in Bratislava were shattered on Monday in the "Steel Arena" in Košice, after a disheartening 36:27 loss against Russia.
With three wins in three games, Russia earned safe passage to the next phase of the competition and will start group II with two points, courtesy of their three wins.
- Russia enjoyed three 3:0 unanswered runs and a 5:0 unanswered run in the first half, as Slovakia’s attacking efficiency dipped to a meagre 36 per cent, with Russian goalkeeper Victor Kireev saving 10 shots
- as the gap grew throughout the game, Russia came close to break their largest-win record at the EHF EURO set in 1998, against Croatia, 29:14, but settled for a nine-goal win
- Russia scored the largest amount of goals in an EHF EURO game since putting 39, their record, past Belarus in 2014
- Slovakia’s right wing Tomas Urban, who scored seven times against Russia became the all-time leading goal scorer for Slovakia at the EHF EURO with 27 goals, leapfrogging Radosavl Antl, who managed 21 goals in nine appearances
- Russia tied their best-ever start at the EHF EURO, with three wins in three games, winning the silver medal each time, in 1994 and 2000, when setting the previous records
Slovakia crumble under the pressure
Whether it was the head-to-head record, which saw Slovakia lose five times and draw another game against Russia, or the pressure of having a main round berth ready to seal, the hosts really crumbled in their final game at the EHF EURO 2022. The 27:36 loss against Russia was plagued by costly turnovers, big mistakes and a clear lack of direction for Peter Kukucka’s side, which basically handed the win on a plate for Russia.
Back in the main round at the EHF EURO for the first time since 2016, Russia suddenly look like a dark horse, with all the ingredients to spring a surprise of two, including the great partnership between two club team mates at Polish outfit Orlen Wisla Plock, Dmitry Zhitnikov and Sergei Mark Kosorotov. They had scored 11 goals each prior to this match and combined for 10 more against Slovakia, cementing their status at Russia’s top scorers at the EHF EURO 2022.
The two points we take in the main round are crucial to the future. If our team plays like this, with huge character and with the same rhythm, I think we can have some good results in the main round in Bratislava.
It is difficult to say something after a game like this, we did not want to finish the EHF EURO 2022 with such a big defeat. Russia was simply better, in attack, in defence, with their goalkeepers on fire. We could not win today.