In the last match of the day and Group A, Croatia beat Portugal.
Ivan Filipović and Mateo Maraš, who scored seven goals in the first half, opened the game scoring four goals for Croatia, while Portugal’s Nuno Martins added one for his team (4:1). M18 EHF EURO 2018 hosts had a great support in their goalkeeper Stipe Purić from the very first minute. Croatian side kept dominating, but a suspension and pulling the goalkeeper out cost them two goals in their net. Once they were complete, the goal-difference increased and the defence kept Portugal from scoring. Until the last whistle, Croatia kept the lead and entered the second half with four goals more than Portugal (15:11).
His eighth goal Mateo Maraš scored at the beginning of the second half and Fran Mileta was precise from a seven-meter line for the six-goal lead. Portugal didn’t have an answer to Croatia’s fast goals and Ricardo Nuno Santos had to call a time out. Fabio Teixeira and Miguel Neves kept on trying to get Portugal back, but the hosts steadily kept the lead until the very last minute and put on a great show for their fans (37:21).
Best player on Croatian side was Stipe Purić and Portugal’s Miguel Neves.
Top scorer for the hosts was Mateo Maraš with nine goals and for Portugal Miguel Neves, Fabio Teixeira and Martim Costa scored five.
Boris Lisica, Croatia coach: I think there was a lot of pressure going into the match, but we started the match really well. We remained disciplined throughout the whole match, maybe the result suggests an easy match, but it wasn’t the case. We played well, the beginning of the match made the difference. We had a brilliant goalkeeper, sometimes it all clicks in handball and this is the final result.
Stipe Puric, Croatia goalkeeper: Defense was brilliant, if it wasn’t for my teammates some saves wouldn’t have happened. They helped me a lot. The key factor was our terrific team spirit and great preparations for this match. Israel is up next, but we have to take it match by match.
Ricardo Nuno Santos, Portugal coach: Today, we lost to Croatia but we didn’t expect such a result. We know we can do better than we did, and we’ll try to fix some problems ahead of the match against Serbia. We want to show we are better than this. The team was a bit anxious in the beginning, but we found some solutions at times. However, we couldn’t do it the entire match.
Miguel Neves, Portugal player: In the first half we entered the game strongly, but Croatia didn’t give us real opportunites. In the second half we didn’t find our game and Croatia was simply better. Tomorrow we play against Serbia and the next round remains our objective. We need to improve our team performance, we will definitely be motivated to win tomorrow versus Serbia!
Group A, Round 1:
Croatia – Portugal 37:21 (15:11)