Iceland, Hungary tie in first draw of EHF EURO

MATCH REVIEW: Thrilling Group B encounter in Aalborg ends 27:27

Photo: Aniko Kovacs

When Icelandic right back Asgeir Hallgrimsson failed to score with the final shot in the very dying seconds of the match, the first draw of the Men's EHF EURO 2014 was confirmed.

With the score at Aalborg's Gigantium being 27:27 at the end, Iceland missed the chance to be the first squad to qualify for the main round, while Hungary gained their first point after their opening defeat against Spain.

With three points on their account, Iceland, however, are still on the straight track for the next stage.

"We started bad, as we were too passive in defence, additionally we had problems with our goalkeeper," analysed Iceland head coach Kristjansson.

"When the defence and the goalkeeper improved and after our attack had found its rhythm, we played better.

"The second half was tight and fully balanced. I'm unhappy that we did not win this game, but on the other hand this one point can be highly important."

But the Vikings were not able to take revenge for their bitter defeat in the 2012 Olympic quarter-final against Hungary, nor did the team of head coach Lajos Mocsai add another victory against Iceland to their tally.

In full contrast to their terrible start against Spain on Sunday (27:34), the Hungarians were fully focused and concentrated in the match's opening stages.

And in even bigger contrast, their back court axis scored and scored and scored, led by the incredible Gabor Ancsin, who found the net five times from five attempts in the first half, became top scorer of his team with seven and eventually was awarded Hungarian 'Player of the Match'.

"This game was how we awaited it, so I was sure this would be a tough game, and that we would be a team, that would fight better (compared to the 27:34 loss against Spain) and if had we been concentrating better, we would have won the game," said Ancsin's teammate Ferenc Ilyes.

"At the end of the game we played a draw, which I think is good for our chances."

As both teams looked like as if they played without any defence at all in the first 15 minutes, the match became a goal fest with clear advantages for the Hungarians, who were ahead 8:4 after only ten minutes.

While they could count on their back court players, Iceland mainly remained in the match because of the long-range shots of Aron Palmarsson (awarded best Icelandic player), who scored five of his eight goals before the break, and the counter attack goals of left wing Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson (five goals overall, four before the break).

Backed by the clear majority of fans in the Gigantium, including the support from the Norwegians supporters on-site, Iceland managed to reduce the gap after changing the goalkeeper from Björgvin Gustavsson to Aron Edvarsson and a clear improvement in defence.

In the 22nd minute they forced Hungarian coach Lajos Mocsai to take his first timeout at the score of 12:11 for Hungary.

Intermediately Hungary then forged ahead again, but a double strike of Asgeir Halgrimsson reduced the gap again to the half-time score of 16:15 in favour of Mocsai's team.

Only seven minutes in the second half, Iceland took the lead for the first time, when Bjarki Gunnarsson scored to make it 18:17.

Tension rises at Gigantium

With their fans increasing the volume of support, Iceland intermediately took control, while Hungary had enormous problems to score – the result was the first (and eventually only) three-goal lead for Iceland (20:17).

But who thought that the Hungarian resistance was broken, was completely wrong.

In the 50th were back on track, leading again 24:23.

The match was on the edge and became a pure thriller.

With four minutes on the clock the score stood at 26:26. Both sides missed a series of opportunities to score – the tension rose, as Iceland even stood for two minutes with a player less on court after a suspension against Runar Karason.

The final 99 seconds Hungary were one man down, as Timuzsin Schuch received a red card following his third suspension.

After Runar Karason stroke to make it 27:26, Hungary replaced their goalkeeper with an additional court player- and Mate Lekai found the gap to equalise again eight seconds before the end, also causing a suspension against Palmarsson.

Iceland head coach Aron Kristjansson called a final timeout, but Hallgrimsson missed the last shot of the match.

"It was a great fight from both sides, a brilliant match for the spectators. Both teams had enough chances to decide the match in the end.

"We deserve this point, as we had clearly improved in all departments. We played creative and strong in defence," said Hungarian head coach Lajos Mocsai.

written by Björn Pazen /