Portugal and North Macedonia share spoils in thriller

24 Jun. 2024

Portugal and North Macedonia share spoils in thriller

A late surge helped Portugal snatch a draw against home side North Macedonia and make a step towards the quarter-final, while the hosts, who now have one point, also still have a chance to progress. 

Portugal vs North Macedonia 28:28 (14:13)

Both goalkeepers, Portugal's Matilde Rosa and North Macedonia's Matea Churlinovska, did a great job from the start of the match, denying their opponents to score several times. And while a string of goals from their leader Luciana Rebelo saw the Portuguese opening up a 4:2 lead, the home side responded with a 4:0 run propelled by Sara Stefanovska and pulled in front, 6:4.

In a balanced game which followed, the hosts, who were actively supported by their home crowd at Boris Traikovski Sports Centre, had a slight advantage for a long time, leading by one or two goals. Yet in the last two minutes before the break, Rebelo and Julia Figueira scored two unanswered goals to give their team a 15:14 lead. 

An exciting battle continued in the second half, and while Portugal scored the first goal after the break, North Macedonia then had another good spell. Churlinovska continued to shine, ending the game with 19 saves and a 40% efficiency, and her team seemed to be on the right track when they led 25:21 with 10 minutes to go.

However, the gritty Portuguese showed character and were superior in the closing minutes. They were still down 25:28 in the 57th minute, but scored three unanswered goal in the remaining time. It was Figueira who drew level with 36 seconds left, and then both sides missed their chances to snatch a win, settling for a draw, 28:28, which leaves everything wide open before the final round of the group, on Tuesday. 

Alkaloid Player of the Match: Matea Churlinovska (North Macedonia)