24/01/2014

Late Karason-winner turns match around

MATCH REVIEW: Iceland beat Poland 28:27 in match for fifth place at EHF EURO 2014

Photo: Stephane Pillaud

For 59:40 minutes Poland held the lead against Iceland in the match for fifth place at the EHF EURO 2014, before the final Icelandic attempt by Runar Karason brought the 'Vikings' a lucky win.

The 28:27 (13:16) victory was mainly saved by Icelandic goalkeeper Aron Rafn Edvardsson.

Like in the EHF EURO 2010 Bronze medal match when they lost 26:29, Poland lacked the necessary luck to overcome Iceland.

"Our performance was not bad, we basically controlled the entire match, but at the end we paid a price for a lack of concentration. We were very well prepared for their starting line-up, but as these players were replaced by their reserve players we started to struggle," Poland's goalkeeper Slawomir Szmal said.

The first half was vivid with both sides having their strengths in attack rather than in defence.

Poland were constantly enjoying a lead, while Iceland had problems scoring against Polish goalkeeper Slawomir Szmal - with one exception: Snorri Steinn Gudjonsson, who netted six of his overall eight goals before the break and who was eventually awarded best Icelandic player.

"The fifth place doesn’t mean that much, but, of course, it’s important to finish in a good way. If we look at the other teams in the semi-finals they are just better than us at the moment," said Gudjonsson after the match.

"Before the match we talked about ending in a good way and in general I think we have played a good tournament."

When the score stood at 5:8, Icelandic coach Aron Kristjansson took his timeout, but his team remained too weak in defence to stand the heat caused by the powerful Poles, who constantly kept a three to four-goal lead until the break (16:13), mainly because of the hard shots of Kamil Syprzak, eventually awarded best Polish player.

Iceland – including Thorir Olafsson, who plays for Polish side Vive Targi Kielce – had to replace their injured 'mastermind' Aron Palmarsson by Stefan Sigurmannsson, so they initially lacked ideas in attack.

After break it became visible that both teams had their seventh match in 13 days, as they became more and more tired.

The speed decreased, but both still were eager to win the match.

Kristjansson and Polish head coach Michael Biegler gave playing time to all of their players and made big rotations.

The Vikings coped much better with those changes.  As Poland now had problems in attack, Iceland reduced the gap goal to goal and equalised for the first time at 20:20 in the 44th minute, causing Biegler to take a timeout.

Backed by the saves of goalkeeper Aron Ravn Edvardsson, who had substituted Björn Gustavsson earlier in the game, Iceland tried hard to take the lead, but could not manage it for 59:40 minutes.

But with exactly 20 seconds before the final buzzer Runar Karason scored for the first lead at 28:27 – and Edvardsson blocked the immediately following Polish attack to eventually secure the victory.

written by Björn Pazen / ts