Group A’s first match of the final round in Koprivnica saw Portugal and Israel fighting for a place in the Main Round.
Portugal’s Goncalo Nogueira was the first scorer in the game, bringing Portugal up by one. In the first minutes, Israel’s actions didn’t result in scores, but Tsur Gertner’s saves left Portugal at a tie (1:1). Yoav Lumbroso brought Israel their first lead from a seven-meter line in the fifth minute. Israel’s deep defence caused a lot of problems to Portugal and Oleg Botenko’s team used the opportunity to go up by three (5:8). By the end of the 15th minute, Portugal was back and a new tie (9:9) made both teams work hard again. Aggressive and fast attacks on both sides and a lot of work for goalkeepers added to the anticipation until the very end of the first half. Felipe Morais’s stolen ball and a precise shot, as well as great Carlos Oliviera’s saves, secured Portugal a one-goal lead (15:14) at the end of the first 30 minutes.
Carlos Oliviera’s great saves opened the second half of an exciting match. The tension and the pressure were there, for both teams. While Israel seemed to rush, Portugal came back from a break more concentrated and used the time to build up an action. Ten minutes before the end, Israel faced three suspensions and two red cards while Morais scored for 25:20. Portugal kept the lead until the very end and secured the first victory (29:24).
Portugal’s best player was Carlos Oliviers and Israel’s was Amiel Kesem.
Top scorer for the winners’ was Filipe Morais with seven goals and from Israel Yoav Lumbroso with six.
Israel player Kesem Amiel: We lost ourselves missing too many easy shots. We believe we are a great team, but something in this tournament went wrong our way. We have to find it, so we can improve in the close future. We believe in first game we didn’t play too well, but managed to come back. In the second one we lost in the end, and we were just terrible in this game.
Israel coach Oleg Boutenko: We lost today, in a very important game for us. I think we had some psychological problems in this match. Our players were too nervous, we made too many mistakes. You just cannot make that many mistakes in a game like this. I can’t say I’m too happy with the games so far. We know we can be better, against Croatia we played well, but against Portugal and Serbia we were not good enough.
Portugal player Carlos Oliveira: We worked a lot to pass to the main round, but we couldn’t do it. I’m very happy to win this match, because we prepared a lot for it. Today we won against Israel, and carry 2 points to the Intermediate round. We feel sad not to perform this well versus Serbia or Croatia, but we continue to work hard and train. Hopefully good things come our way.
Portugal coach Ricardo Nuno Santos: Today, finally we played better and we needed to win. We did everything we needed to feel the taste of victory. The players needed it. The most important thing today was the good job we did in defense and attack. It is really good to see how happy they are, because we worked a lot and we needed to win in the last match. If we have done a little bit better against Serbia, and we think we could have, maybe we could have been in the main round. But, we are happy with this victory and will continue to work!
Group A, Round 3:
Portugal – Israel 29:24 (15:14)