More than 11,000 spectators watch heroic Iceland and Netherlands in Budapest
There have been more heroes of Saturday match day of EHF EURO 2022, in addition, all the three matches were played in a fantastic atmosphere in Budapest handball arena. Netherlands beat Montenegro, the hero of the game was a goalkeeper who had been at work in his home country 24 hours before. Despites some of their players missing, Iceland - also due to a great goalkeeper’s saves - gained a victory against Olympic Champion France. The latter suffered their greatest defeat in EHF EURO history. Denmark remained flawless in front of thousands of Croat fans.
Netherlands make history with reserve goalkeeper
Would you have ever thought that anyone from Mexico might travel to Budapest, host city of EHF EURO 2022? We guess you would not, however, Enrique from Mexico, who is a player and coach back in his home country, works as a volunteer here. We talked to him the other day. Moreover, the success of the tournament is being supported by volunteers from Austria, Croatia or France. Volunteers are key figures at important world events; their EHF EURO daily routine will be covered soon in a further article.
Another group of Montenegrin supporters has appeared in the arena of Budapest by Saturday afternoon, this is not a surprise though.
Team Montenegro led by coach Zoran Roganovic has been playing outstandingly, being driven even higher by goalkeeper Nebojsa Simic. The two groups of fans took the opposite sides on the tribune. Their ‘cheering games’ determined the beginning of the first match of this match day; moreover the performance by players on the court, for sure; Montenegro took a 7:4 lead by the tenth minute. Netherlands took the lead for the first time during the match at 14:13, and they were two goals ahead by half-time.
A solid lead for Netherlands after the break (30:25) was founded due to great saves by Thijs van Leeuwen, who plays in the Belgian Championship and was lately rostered, and goals by Luc Stens. Finally, Netherlands won the match, gaining their very first EHF EURO main round victory ever.
Montenegrins received standing ovations from their fans while Team Netherlands were dancing on the court – with van Leeuwen in the middle of the circle, who had been taking his flight towards Budapest a couple of hours before.
‘Montenegrin fans were definitely louder than us, but it did not matter since the team had won the first EHF EURO main round match ever; a perfect game though. We took a sightseeing tour the day before, Budapest is an amazing city. I am sure me and my girlfriend will return,’ Michael, a Dutch fan (in the photo on the right).
For Croat fans, the first match of the day was a warm-up according to Mario (also on the right of the photo); ‘This is the most beautiful arena I have ever seen. The atmosphere was great during the first match of the day, but I am sure it will be even greater when Croatia plays in the evening. That is why we have travelled here from home, just like many other Croats.’
Magnificent game by Iceland, fans gather together
‘Two more seats in the carpool to Vienna’ - reads the words on a board being carried around by a young man in the arena’s main hall. Practicality and pleasure combined, opportunities are fulfilled by many who arrive at EHF EURO 2022.
We have met a Hungarian fan who returned from Barcelona for the weekend. He wanted to see Hungary playing in the arena. Despite the fact that the host team is out, just like many more, he did not want to waste his tickets. That ‘many more’ means over 11,000 handball fans who decided to spend their Saturday afternoon and evening in the arena; they were definitely not disappointed with their choice.
Iceland started the game against the previously flawless France on fire, they led 11-5 in the 19th minute. They were up by 7 at halftime and the flow of the match did not change afterwards.
This led to the Hungarian and Icelandic fans joining forces as the arena was loud by the traditional viking claps and the “Ria, ria, Hungária” chants. The win was rewarded with a standing ovation in the last two minutes by the whole arena. Without a doubt, we were witnesses to a historical moment. MVP was awarded to the 21-year-old goalkeeper Viktor Hallgrímsson, who ended with a total of 44 per cent of saves. He has rarely played so far at EHF EURO 2022.
‘Being MVP against France means a lot to me and I know I will return home with great memories from Budapest. I would like to express my gratitude to our fans and for their support,’ the MVP summarized his thoughts and the end of the match.
‘This was crazy, incredible. A fantastic game. Fans from Croatia and Denmark helped us cheering; we found common ground on not wanting France to win. You could feel the cheering through the whole stadium.”,’Thengill, Arnar and Sverrir told us thrilled after the match, which was the centennial EHF EURO game for France - and their largest defeat.
Denmark: like it or lump it!
Croatian fans singing their national anthem gave the arena a shook - they outnumbered themselves, arriving in the largest number than ever before at the EHF EURO 2022. The fact Croatia was defeated by the Montenegrins in the first game of the main round makes this appearance of Croatian fans even more important. Wherever you looked around, red and white checked jerseys and outfits could be seen. By the way, some Norwegian fans appeared too; they have been waiting for their team to arrive from Bratislava in a few days, haven't they?
The equalizer score came from Croatia at 10:10 - until then the Danes were ahead, however, Mirko Alilovic mesmerized Mikkel Hansen and his mates. It was not a complete break since Denmark played wisely and in a disciplined way in their attack.
The end of the game resulted in another Danish success; they are still flawless together with the Spaniards from the Bratislava-group of the EHF EURO.
There are two nights to sleep and the main round of Budapest continues.
Main Round, Match Day 2:
Montenegro - Netherlands 30:34 (16:18)
France - Iceland 21:29 (10:17)
Denmark - Croatia 27:25 (12:11)