27:20 win against Germany puts defending champions back on track

Montenegro open their main round campaign in Zagreb with a confident victory one day after their coach's 45th birthday

Photo: Stephane Pillaud

Montenegro presented their coach Dragan Adzic with a late birthday present when they took two crucial points with a 27:20 (12:10) win against Germany on Sunday.

Adzic had celebrated his 45th birthday on Saturday, one day before the main round started in the Arena Zagreb.

The result did not only see Montenegro taking an exact tit-for-tat revenge for the 20:27 loss they conceded against Germany two years ago at the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia, it first and foremost kept the defending champions' semi-final hopes alive.

With four points on their account Montenegro still have their fate in their own hands in their upcoming matches against Sweden and Netherlands, while Germany, who remain on zero points, have no chances to proceed to the semi-finals anymore.

"This win has opened the door for the semi-final for us, but we already have to forget about it. There will be no time for relaxing here in the main round," said Montenegro's goalkeeper Sonja Barjaktarovic.

As she faced overall nine of her club teammates of Buducnost Podgorica, goalkeeper Clara Woltering was the stronghold in the German team together with top scorer Marlene Zapf who netted seven times and also pocketed the best player award.

But the combined forces of these two were not enough to crack Montenegro who played much more consistent and aggressive compared to their opponents.

Both sides committed a high number of individual mistakes in the first half, but the defending champions enjoyed a constant lead except for a short span at 8:8 when Germany missed three consecutive chances to power away.

Best player of the match was Milena Knezevic, who in her 100th international was simply unstoppable for the German defence.

She scored four of her overall eight goals before the break and contributed significantly to the victory which was topped for her by the best player award.

"It turns out, EURO suits me very well. I haven’t had a particularly good World Championship, but now I’m back to what I do best.

"The Women’s EHF EURO. If this is anything go by, my form will only get better and better," she said.

Like in their preliminary round matches, Germany had problems in attack and very quickly they had fallen behind 3:6.

Head coach Dragan Adzic had adapted his defence in a clever way to stop the German attacks, and his team did not offer many gaps for their opponents to get through, but as they failed to score on too many occasions, they missed the opportunity to virtually decide the match in their favour early on.

At half-time the score stood at 12:10 in favour of Montenegro, and when another Knezevic goal brought Montenegro in front 14:11, Germany's coach Heine Jensen changed his strategy and started man-marking the Montenegrin top scorer.

However, the effect was short-lived, as Montenegro were stronger in all departments of the game -apart from Woltering's saving percentage which was slightly better than the rates of Barjaktarovic and Rajcic.

Neither the 100th international career goal of playmaker Kerstin Wohlbold at 13:15, nor another timeout of coach Heine Jensen at the 15:19 worked as wake-up calls for the Germans, who only scored six times in the first 16 minutes of the second half.

At the latest when Radmila Petrovic netted to bring Montenegro 25:19 in front five minutes before the end, the match was decided and Montenegro celebrated for the second time in days - first the coach's birthday, then two points at the EHF EURO.

written by Björn Pazen / ts


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