Karabatic leads France to the win and go down in history

After a thrilling encounter with Croatia, in which Nila Karabatic, once again, added his name to the handball pantheon, the French national team clinched a crucial victory in their bid to reach the semi-finals (34-32). Here's a look back at the Parisians' results at the Euro on Thursday.

unstoppable Bleus

The disappoint draw against Switzerland in the preliminary round seems already so far away from France national team. Having dominated Germany on Tuesday (33-30), Les Bleus continue their run towards the semi-finals thanks to their victory over Croatia (34-32), at the end of a breathtaking encounter. In front of a largely Croatian-supported crowd, Goran Perkovac's men took the first break of the match (8': 2-4). Led by the ever-present Nikola Karabatic, the French team quickly took the lead, without however breaking away (12': 8-7). In the end, the two teams returned to the locker room side to side, at the end of an eventful first act (30': 18-18).

Voir cette publication sur Instagram

Une publication partagรฉe par EHF EURO (@ehfeuro)

Despite Ludovic Fabregas' early red card in the second half (41': 24-21), Guillaume Gille's men redoubled their intensity to take a decisive gap. Always clinical in front of goal, Nikola Karabatic made further European handball history by scoring his 289th Euro goal, overtaking Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson to become the competition's all-time leading scorer, hence setting a new record. In addition to its historic status, this goal gave the French a decisive lead going into the final quarter of an hour (44': 26-22). Although the Croatians stayed in touch until the buzzer, the French were serious enough to secure the two points (60': 34-32).

A crucial victory for Les Bleus, in which all the Parisians shone. In addition to Nikola (5 goals), Luka (1 goal) and Elohim (1 goal) also contributed to another French victory. With four points to their name, France are alone on top of Group 1, ahead of Austria (3 points). Tied third, Dominik Mathรฉ's Hungary and Germany remain in touch, while Croatia and Iceland, Guillaume Gille's next opponents on Saturday, see their hopes of a semi-final qualification becoming increasingly remote.

First defeat for Dominik Mathรฉ's Hungary

After a historic preliminary round, in which they went spotless for the first time in their history, Hungary suffered their first defeat of Euro 2024. Facing Austria, Dominik Mathรฉ and his team were left to rue a seemingly ideal start to the match (4': 3-0). Clumsy in front of goal, the Magyars finally let the Austrians back in at the end of the first period, sending the two teams back to the locker room on a parity score (30': 17-17).

After the break, Mathรฉ scored twice to give his side a two-goal lead (34': 20-18). A few minutes later, the Red and Blue right-back was at it again, equalising after Erwin Gerlinger's men had taken the lead for the first time in the match (42': 23-23). Their efforts were not rewarded, however, as Austria took the lead in the final seconds to secure a crucial victory (60': 29-30).

Despite this defeat, Hungary can still maintain their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals, being just one point behind their opponents. However, Chema Rodriguez's men will have to respond on Saturday by defeating Croatia in a match that is already decisive.

(Credits: FFHandball/Icon Sports)