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Serbia’s first win at M18 EHF EURO 2018

The first clash of Group A’s second round was between Portugal and Serbia.

The first minute was already packed with action; Salvador Salvador stole the ball and found Filipe Morais, but Serbia’s goalkeeper Nikola Ćirović had his first save. Goncalo Nogueira was the first scorer in the match and brought Portugal lead. Soon Jovica Nikolić scored twice and Serbia retook the lead.  Strong start of both teams’ didn’t result in many goals in the first half, but the pressure was there. Both Portugal’s and Serbia’s goalkeepers had great reactions to the opponent’s attacks. By the end of the 15th minute, Serbia had a two-goal advantage thanks to Nikola Stefanović’s two great goals (3:5). Serbia’s domination forced Portugal’s head coach Nuno Santos to call a time out ten minutes before the end of the first half, but it didn’t help the Portuguese team to catch up. Just the opposite, Serbia had a four-goal advantage at the end of the first 30 minutes (7:11).

Serbia entered the second period without two players and Portugal’s Alfredo Torres and Goncalo Nogueira used the opportunity to decrease the difference. As soon as Serbia was complete, they got back into the old rhythm. Portugal had troubles when it came to finding space in Serbia’s defence and the goalkeeper Nikola Ćirović while on the other side Portugal’s goalkeeper Francisco Oliveira didn’t have an answer to opponent’s attacks. Although Portugal managed to come close, Serbia took the well-deserved win (21:25) and new points.

Best player from the winners’ team was Jovica Nikolić and for Portugal Goncalo Nogueira.

Top scorer for Serbia was Jovica Nikolić with ten goals and for Portugal Martim Costa with seven.

Serbian coach Aleksandar Radosavljevic: We played terrific defense in the first half. We probably surprised Portugal a bit because they expected us to play 6-0 defense. My players played exactly like we said before the match, played their hearts out. They were really phenomenal today, we kept cool heads unlike yesterday. We learned a lot from that, this result was really realistic and we maybe deserved to win by a larger margin. We have a day to prepare against Croatia, who are the favourites in that match, but we have a very good chance to reach the next round with this victory!

Serbian player Jovica Nikolic: In our team the rule is that individual quality doesn’t bring results. We have a real team and no one stands out. The team played like one, we gave our all. Yesterday we were unlucky, but today our fight made the difference. The experience I have means a lot, because personally I played against some great teams. However, I want to say that my teammates are incredibly important and that we are a great team and no one can stand out from the rest.

Portugal player Goncalo Nogueira: We started poorly, Serbia opened the match very well. This was specially in attack, as they scored and we didn’t take our chances. We hope to be better next time, every match needs to be competitive!

Portugal coach Joao Varejao: The truth is that we played better than yesterdat. We believed we could have won today. Some simple things didn’t work today, some chances were missed and it was the difference. Their keeper saved the shots, it was a good game, we worked hard but Serbia was really good today. We saw Serbia against Israel, we knew everything we needed to do, but just couldn’t score.

Group A, Round 2:
Portugal – Serbia 21:25 (7:11)

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