Semi-finals at Men's 18 EHF EURO turn into goal festivalArticle
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REVIEW: No less than 153 goals were scored in just two matches when France beat Germany 39:38 and Croatia beat Slovenia 40:36 to reach the final of the Men's 18 EHF EURO

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Semi-finals at Men's 18 EHF EURO turn into goal festival

It was a bit like the prelude to the Olympic men's semi-final just a few hours later.

On Friday late afternoon, France met Germany at the Men's 18 EHF EURO in Croatia, just like the senior national teams of both nations did thousands of kilometres westwards in Rio de Janeiro at the Olympic Games.

And just like at Rio 2016, France beat Germany by one goal, 39:38 after extra time. It was sign of what was there to come goal-wise, as in the second semi-final tournament hosts Croatia beat Slovenia 40:36.

153 goals were scored in just 70 minutes and can make everyone look forward to Sunday, when Germany play Slovenia at 15:00 hrs CET in the match for third place and France face Croatia in the final at 17:30 hrs.

Both games are streamed live on the Croatian federation's Youtube channel.

Important decisions were also made in the two cross matches for places 13 to 16 on Friday. With Switzerland beating Czech Republic 28:21 and Poland winning 30:27 against Slovakia, it was confirmed that the two losing squads will be relegated to the Men's 20 EHF Championships 2018.

Switzerland and Poland will play for 13th on Saturday at 15:00 hrs CET with the winning team staying at EHF EURO level in 2018 and the loser also being relegated to the EHF Championship.

There were two very different halves that the 700 fans witnessed in Koprivnica in the first semi-final. Spurred on by Sebastian Heymann, who scored 13 goals in the match, Germany forged ahead to a 18:13 lead at the break.

At the beginning of the second half, Germany even extended the lead to nine goals (22:13), but France refused to roll over and give up.

They fought themselves back into the game, started dominating Germany almost at will and levelled the match for the first time at 30:30. Extra time was needed when the score stood at 32:32 after 60 minutes.

Germany found their pace and rhythm again, but France eventually scored the last goal of the game to secure their place in the final.

Croatia then left little doubt that they wanted to follow suit a quickly as possible. At half-time they led 21:17 and the full-on attacking play of both teams did not stop in the second half, but Slovenia were not able to turn the game around.

"This is phenomenal, our dream came true. We have been preparing for this for 40 days and everything was worth it," said Croatia's Josip Sarac who was awarded 'best player' for his team.

"I'm proud of my whole team, the people that trusted us, but this is not my maximum. We are aiming for the victory on Sunday, that is our maximum. Now we need to take some rest, analyse what we did wrong and go for gold."

TEXT: EHF / ts