Sweden ease with four points into main round with big win over Croatia
05 Dec. 2023
In Gothenburg, co-hosts Sweden took their third straight win in Group A, defeating Croatia in an all-European duel, 22:17, to ensure a four-point start in the main round at Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023.
Sweden vs Croatia 22:17 (9:7)
Just like in the other Group A match between Senegal and People's Republic of China earlier on the day, both teams defended better that they attacked in this game, as no goal was scored until the sixth minute, when Sweden's Nathalie Hagman broke that deadlock by converting a penalty.
Croatia answered with a 3:1 run, restricting the co-hosts to just one goal in the 10 opening minutes, much to the disappointing of their home crowd, but Sweden caught up soon with their counterparts, and they went on to dominate in this low-scoring, yet entertaining game.
Both goalkeepers did a fantastic job, with a particular focus on Evelina Eriksson, who boasted a 65% save rate in the first half, stopping as many as 11 shots for Sweden. However, the Scandinavian side failed to translate her efficiency into a big advantage on the scoreboard, as Tea Pijevic also stood tall for Croatia, with 10 saves and a 53% save rate.
Still, the co-hosts led by two goals at the break, 9-7, and they continued to push forward afterwards. Jenny Carlson quarterbacked the attack, as she both scored and assisted her teammates, while Nathalie Hagman converted several 7m shots, lifting Sweden to a 19:12 lead by the 48th minute, with the win sealed by the Scandinavian side.
The goalkeepers of both sides had less impact after the restart, yet they continued to make saves. But Croatia, who had scored as many as 39 goals against People's Republic of China two days earlier, now struggled a lot in attack, missing a lot of shots, being restricted to only 17 goals in the final match of the preliminary round.
Sweden also had their ups and downs, and as they failed to score during eight minutes, Croatia somewhat restored their hopes, slashing the gap to 16:19 with five minutes to go. But Tomas Axner's team weathered the storm to clinch a five-goal win, 22:17.
Both teams will stay in Gothenburg and play in the Main Round Group I, but Sweden will take four points to the next stage, and Croatia, who are ahead of Senegal only on goal difference in Group A, will carry just one point over with them, having a mountain to climb if they are to make the quarter-finals.
hummel Player of the Match: Jenny Carlson (Sweden)