Olympic Handball Qualifiers: Croatia Narrowly Defeats Portugal 25:24 in Dramatic Finish!

By 13 March 2021
Olympic Handball Qualifiers: Croatia Narrowly Defeats Portugal 25:24 in Dramatic Finish!

March 13, 2021 - Croatia narrowly defeats Portugal 25:24 in a dramatic finish to stay alive in the Olympic qualifiers! 

The Croatia handball national team met Portugal in the second round of the Olympic qualifying tournament in Montpellier, France on Saturday. 

As France defeated Croatia yesterday (30:26) and Portugal defeated Tunisia (34:27), Croatia's victory in this match was imperative.

However, even with a victory in the remaining two games (Portugal and Tunisia), Croatia was not guaranteed Tokyo. If Croatia beats Portugal and Tunisia, and Portugal beats France tomorrow (and if France celebrates tonight against Tunisia), a round of three national teams with the same number of points can be created, in which case the one with the worst goal difference in the mutual matches of these three teams would be eliminated.

If Croatia does not want to depend on the outcome of the France and Portugal match (Sunday, 9 pm), they would have to go for the best possible goal difference. A win of at least five goals against Portugal, along with any win against Tunisia on Sunday, would have taken Croatia to Tokyo no matter how the clash between France and Portugal ends.

If Croatia drew against Portugal, they would have to win against Tunisia by more than seven points and wait for France's victory against Portugal.

Croatia v. Portugal Recap

Maric scored the opening goal of the game for 1:0 Croatia. Martinovic scored a rocket from the outside for 2:2 in the 7th minute and again for 3:4. 

Portugal led by 3 goals in the 10th minute. Cupic scored for 4:6 two minutes later. Croatia had only scored 4 goals in the first 15 minutes of the match. 

Cupic scored his second goal for 5:6. Cindric scored for 6:7 in the 16th.

Cupic scored again, this time from a 7-meter throw, for 7:8. Mandic made it 8:9 in the 19th minute. 

Portugal led by 3 goals in the 23rd minute (8:11).

Cupic scored from 7 meters for 9:12 with two minutes to go in the first half. 

Duvnjak scored Croatia's first goal of the second half for 10:13. Croatia was down by 4 goals in the 34th minute. 

Cupic scored his gift goal of the game in the 36th minute from 7 metes (11:16).  

Mandic made it -4 moments later for 12:16.  Cupic was 6/6 in the 40th minute for -3 (13:16). 

Mandic made it 14:16 one minute later. Musa scored for 15:17 in the 42nd. Cupic scored for -1 in the 43rd (16:17)!

Mandic scored for 17:18 with 15 minutes to go. It was 18:19 thanks to Maric with just over 10 to go, and 19:20 thanks to Cindric a minute later. 

Strlek scored for 20:21 in the 52nd minute. The brilliant Cupic scored yet again, this time for the critical equalizer for 21:21! 

Cindric scored for 22:22 with five minutes to go and Cupic for 23:23 with three minutes left. 

Croatia finally retook the lead at 24:23 thanks to captain Duvnjak! A dramatic ending it would be. 

Portugal equalized at 24:24 in the final minute. Cindric made it 25:24 with 15 seconds left, which was the final score of the game! 

Croatia plays Tunisia on Sunday at 18:30. 

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