Croatia’s luck finally ran dry as they were defeated by a very impressive Denmark 30-24. After playing exceptional handball in their first seven games, the Cowboys defended poorly and gave the ball away on too many occasions in a highly physical game. They will play for the bronze medal tomorrow against Slovenia at 1 PM EST.
1st Half: The Danes got off to a quick start and went up 6-1 to put Croatia in uncharted territory for them. Croatia’s shooting was poor and they had no answer for the attack of Denmark as Mirko Alilovic was not up to his usual standard and Denmark’s keeper Niklas Landin was exceptional, saving six of Croatia’s first eight shots. Croatia began to find ways through Landin and was able to keep Denmark from pulling away, as both sides played extremely physical and picked up 2-minute suspensions. Croatia lost Drago Vukovic for the second match in a row as he went down with an ankle injury in the 24th minute as Croatia trailed 11-7. Despite the lack of defense and multitude of turnovers from Croatia, they went into the half still in the game, down 11-14.
2nd half: After trading goals in the first few minutes, Denmark went on a 3-0 run to pull their lead to 19-14. Despite being outplayed, Croatia kept the deficit in the 3-5 range as they held on to their championship hopes. Croatia began to show their frustration with the refs and the scoreline as they turned the ball over needlessly and picked up silly suspensions. With ten minutes to go, the deficit was three with Denmark up 23-20. The Danes scored the next three and led by six with only six minutes to go, effectively ending the game. Damir Bicanic led Croatia with six goals, with Domagoj Duvnjak adding five. Ivan Cupic was shut out, as he missed his only three shots in the match.
Slavko Goluza: We lost a lot of energy in the quarter-final against France. We were not in the shape we should be. As everybody saw, we had a bad start. And Denmark seemed to get all the bounces. Today we faced an incredible Danish team and they punished every mistake we made. Now we have to get this match out of our head to face Slovenia and win the bronze medal.
Igor Vori: For the third time in less than one year we lost a semi-final. The first ten minutes summed it up. In one Danish attack they got three rebounds. But if we finish this tournament with a medal we can go home with our heads up high. But Slovenia did not reach the semifinal by luck. They have played a very good tournament. We have a lot of respect for them. But we also have played a good tournament. We are on the right track with a lot of players just 19 or 20 years old.