18 Jul. 2022
A magnificent comeback in a high-octane final saw Spain take their third title at the M20 EHF EURO, with a superb 37:35 win against hosts Portugal, who were backed by over 3,500 fans in the Centro de Desportos e Congresso de Matosinhos.
Down 28:32 with 15 minutes to go, Spain produced some of their best handball throughout the whole tournament to limit Portugal’s superb attack to only three goals scored in the last part of the match, delivering one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the competition.
With backs Jan Gurri Aregay and Bruno Reguart Massana in superb form, combining for 15 goals, Spain avenged their only defeat in the competition at the hands of Portugal in the preliminary round, 35:36, to take the third M20 EHF EURO title in 10 years.
It was a magnificent tournament for ‘Los Hispanos’, who delivered great attacking performances throughout the whole tournament in Portugal, averaging a record average of 36.4 scored goals per match, on their way to the gold medal.
Spain tied the record previously held by Germany and Denmark for the number of medals won in the history of the tournament – six – while also becoming only the third team after the two powerhouses to lift the trophy for the third time.
Unfortunately for Portugal, the hosts failed to clinch their first gold medal, but the failure to lift the trophy does not erase what they managed at the tournament they hosted. They qualified in style for the second final in history, after the one lost against Denmark in 2010, produced entertaining handball with some dazzling attacks.
Led by top scorer Francisco Mota da Costa, who is still only 17 years old, Portugal secured their second silver medal in history, but the lingering feeling is that this golden generation could have delivered more and finally open Portugal’s account.
Mota da Costa, the All-star right back of the competition, scored 11 goals in the final on his way to the top scorer title, with a 58-goal tally, while his brother, left back Martim Mota da Costa, who also made the All-star Team, added 37 goals, as Portugal’s two-pronged attack really made waves at the M20 EHF EURO 2022.
The two brothers also made their debut in the senior team for Portugal in the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship play-off and are likely to feature at Poland/Sweden 2023 in January.
The third place went to Serbia, thanks to a 30:26 win against Sweden in the bronze-medal game, the first medal in history for the country who also delivered the MVP of the competition, centre back Stefan Dodic.
The tournament was also the highest-scoring M20 EHF EURO in history, with 3,354 goals scored over 56 games, for an average of 59.8 goals per game, a strong uptick from the previous edition, held in 2018, when the 16 teams combined for an average of 55.3 goals per game.
Ten teams earned their berths for the 2023 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship, with the top 11 sides – including co-hosts Germany – progressing to the world flagship competition, which will be held next June in Germany and Greece.
Spain, Portugal, Serbia, Sweden, Hungary, France, Denmark, Slovenia, the Faroe Islands and Iceland were the teams that earned safe passage for next year’s tournament, with Italy, Poland, Croatia, Norway and Montenegro failing to make the cut.
4. Sweden, 5. Hungary, 6. France, 7. Germany, 8. Denmark, 9. Slovenia, 10. Faroe Islands, 11. Iceland, 12. Italy, 13. Poland, 14. Croatia, 15. Norway, 16. Montenegro
M20 EHF EURO 2022 All-star Team
Goalkeeper: Alexander Linden (Sweden)
Right wing: Antonio Martínez (Spain)
Right back: Francisco Mota da Costa (Portugal)
Centre back: Thomas Arnoldsen (Denmark)
Left back: Martim Mota da Costa (Portugal)
Left wing: Kelvin Roberts (Sweden)
Line player: Javier Rodriguez (Spain)
MVP: Stefan Dodic (Serbia)
Best defender: Marko Tasic (Serbia)
Top scorer: Francisco Mota da Costa (Portugal, 58 goals)
For more information about the M20 EHF EURO 2022, visit eurohandball.com.
Photo: Portuguese Handball Federation