Croatia, carried by its experienced semi-center Domagoj Duvnjak, qualified for the final of the European handball championship by beating Norway, vice-champion of the world 2017 and 2019, after two extensions 29 to 28, Friday at Stockholm in the semi-finals.
World champion in 2003, Croatia will try to win its first continental crown - and a direct ticket for the 2020 Olympic Games - Sunday (4.30 p.m.) against Spain or Slovenia, who compete on Friday evening (8.45 p.m.) for the second half.
The scenario of this first semi-final was completely crazy, with many reversals and finally a Croatian goal scored three seconds before the end of the second overtime for Zeljko Musa, while Sander Sagosen's teammates had the ball of the qualification thirty seconds from the end.
Author of a huge game, the indestructible Domagoj Duvnjak (31) scored eight goals, including the seven-meter throw to save his team in the 70th minute and hang the second extension of two times five minutes. Very logically, he was named man of the match.
The meeting had taken a very favorable turn for the Croats at the start of the second period, who took three goals ahead (15-12, 37th), even had a ball over four, stopped by the excellent Norwegian goalkeeper Torbjörn Bergerud.
It was then that Sagosen, untenable at the start of the match but silent for about twenty minutes, took matters into his own hands for Norway. The two teams went back to back and Sagosen's ten goals were not enough to seek a third final in the last four major tournaments for Norway.
To see Tokyo-2020, the Norwegians will have to go through an Olympic qualification tournament in mid-April at home, a step that Croatia could spare in the event of a coronation on Sunday.
© 2020 AFP