Summary: Denmark through, as France and Croatia win
The third main round matches in Budapest on Monday night could decide several teams' fate - but Denmark are in pole position for a semi-final ticket.
- Croatia down Iceland 23:22 in up-and-down contest
- Denmark seal their semi-final berth with a 35:23 win against the Netherlands
- France eliminate Montenegro from contention and keep their own hopes alive with a 36:27 win
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This is our third semi-final in the last year, and this is new for us. It’s great, it means that we can stay at the top and play very well in the long term.
We have just two main round days left - where does time go?
The blog will return tomorrow at 10:00 CET for the build-up to the big Scandinavian derby which will decide group II.
Group I has one more match day, and there'll be two more critical games. Iceland will know Montenegro are beatable, and France face Denmark with no pressure on the shoulders of the world champions. Wednesday will be fun, for the fans at least ...
Meanwhile, here are tonight's match reviews.
21:57 | FULL-TIME
MONTENEGRO 27:36 FRANCE
France make a statement, throwing off Saturday's loss with an emphatic victory against Montenegro. The red card for Vincent Gerard proved not to be an issue, with Wesley Pardin going on to make important saves from the moment he stepped on court.
Montenegro's semi-final hopes are now over, as they cannot catch France in the standings, even if they beat Iceland on Wednesday.
It's a 10-goal lead for France, and Montenegro do not look like they can come back from this. They will keep battling, but Wesley Pardin is making some amazing stops and Erick Mathé is now able to rotate all his players.
Despite some excellent goals, Montenegro now trail by eight. Wesley Pardin and the French defence are doing a great job and the French attack is combining well at the other end of the court.
Some five minutes into the second half, France hold a five-goal lead. The intensity of the match remains high.
21:11 | HALF-TIME
MONTENEGRO 12:16 FRANCE
Nikola Karabatic finds time to net for a four-goal lead just before the break, but apart from the final six minutes this was a very level game. And as Courtney Gahan says, Montenegro's chances are far from over. They're playing like they believe they should be in the semi-finals.
Montenegro are forcing us to take them very seriously as semi-final contenders, with a great performance so far and a manageable deficit at half-time. If Montenegro can cause an upset and take the win here it would place them in a favourable position ahead of the last main round day in Budapest, leaving the race for the remaining semi-final ticket from the group very open indeed. With Nebojsa Simic in the form he’s in — yet again a huge show from the keeper here tonight — the door to Montenegro’s first semi-final appearance in any championship looks to be ajar.
A 3:0 run for France, featuring two goals from Melvyn Richardson and one from Aymeric Minne, gives France a 14:11 lead and Zoran Roganovic calls a timeout - although we're into the last three minutes of the half.
Nebojsa Simic continues to shine, now with nine saves inside 22 minutes. Montenegro are level and causing France all sorts of problems in an intense match.
Milos Vujovic is on a fast break and Vincent Gerard leaves his goal to try and intercept, but misjudges and is hand catches Vujovic's face. Video replay, and it's a red card for the French keeper. Wesley Pardin must now play the remaining 42 minutes as the only shot-stopper for France.
Montenegro's captain Vasko Sevaljevic thwacks Nikola Karabatic in the face as the Frenchman has the ball, and Karabatic goes down. A video replay results in a direct red card and Sevaljevic heads off, just 12 and a half minutes into the match. With Montenegro trailing 6:9, is this going to tell against them, or just get them fired up?
Early in the match, Erick Mathé is switching Nikola Karabatic and Karl Konan with every change in possession, giving Karabatic the chance to score and using Konan mainly in defence. The other six on court right now are Yanis Lenne, Dika Mem, Nicolas Tournat, Romain Lagarde and Hugo Descat, plus Vincent Gerard in goal - though Tournat has just been suspended.
France have started on a mission but Montenegro are right there with them. Six goals in four minutes and we're shaping up for a cracker here.
France have Ludovic Fabregas back tonight, after he missed Saturday's match due to feeling under the weather. They also have Karl Konan back, after the young defender tested positive for Covid-19 - he has clearly passed the necessary tests and is able to play.
One more game to go tonight, and it should be good.
France need to bounce back from their loss to Iceland on Saturday. Iceland's own defeat today by Croatia means the Olympic champions can have a lot more control over their own fate, with a win putting them ahead of Iceland in the ranking.
Montenegro lost to the Netherlands in the last match, but beat Croatia on Thursday, and they can be dangerous. Unlike France they have little to lose and everything to gain, as a win would put them level with France and Iceland ahead of the final main round day.
19:24 | FULL-TIME
DENMARK 35:23 NETHERLANDS
With so many Dutch stars missing, a defeat was probably always the most likely outcome. The Netherlands must be given credit for the way they fought throughout, but Denmark were better from the whistle and showed very little mercy to their opponents.
The win sees Denmark into the final weekend, while the Netherlands are out of the running.
Owch. On a fastbreak Emil Jakobsen shoots and his momentum is such that he cannons into René de Knegt, now in the Dutch goal. Jakobsen helps the keeper up, but the moment about sums up this game for the Dutch.
With the score at 30:21, the Danes are definitely heading for a big win.
The Netherlands might not be winning but the whole team is getting a run-out. Of their 12 field players, 11 have scored, with Luc Steins the only one not to take the court at all as he rests.
Niklas Landin has done his thing, having made nine saves (43 per cent) and is on the bench, although without his tracksuit top on. Kevin Møller has saved twice so far.
The Dutch are persisting and after a big battle with the Danish defence, Bobby Schagen scores their 17th goal.
As the second half resumes, it's two goals apiece including an empty-net shot by Dani Baijens after an uncharacteristic mistake from Denmark. Most of Denmark's top players, including Mikkel Hansen, are still on court but must surely be rested soon.
18:37 | HALF-TIME
DENMARK 21:12 NETHERLANDS
You can't help but feel for the Netherlands, who have played so well but are hit so badly by Covid. The lack of Kay Smits, Samir Benghamen and other players is showing - especially as Luc Steins remains on the bench. Denmark are dominant, and the main question now seems to be how many can they score? Courtney Gahan has more.
A tough 30 minutes for the Netherlands, as Denmark completely control the game and go to the break with a score line that suggests they could be on their way to their biggest ever EHF EURO win. The Scandinavian side’s record is currently a 34:20 result against Switzerland in 2004. At this point, it looks as though the world champions are going to be the first to celebrate a semi-final berth and in style — with a decisive victory.
Mikkel Hansen is now the third player in history to score 250 Men's EHF EURO goals, behind Iceland's Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson and France's Nikola Karabatic. What a player. He's leading Denmark to a substantial lead in Budapest.
Denmark take a 10-goal lead after 22 minutes. Their superior ball-handling skills are showing and it does look like a big win is on the cards.
Denmark were always going to be a challenge for the Netherlands, and so it is proving. In an end-to-end match the Danes are scoring far more easily than the Dutch, and Niklas Landin is stopping half of the Netherlands' shots. It's looking ominous.
Interestingly, Edwin Kippers is keeping Luc Steins on the bench at the moment - maybe saving his energy for their last match against Croatia?
A fast start to the match sees Denmark score six and the Netherlands three in six minutes. Thijs Van Leeuwen is yet to get his hands on the ball, while Niklas Landin has saved twice.
Denmark have a good chance of making their way to the semi-finals now. The Netherlands, missing several key players including Kay Smits, cannot be underestimated but they don't have the same experience or bench as the reigning world champions.
The Dutch have never beaten Denmark in five international matches, and they have never met at an EHF EURO.
Here's the match-winning goal by Ante Gadza, a shot that Viktor Hallgrímsson just couldn't get his hands on, and just late enough that Iceland didn't quite have time to equalise.
17:05 | FULL-TIME
ICELAND 22:23 CROATIA
What an up-and-down match. Each team had their moments, but Croatia had more moments in the second half and that took them to the win. Iceland had a final couple of solid chances but missed, and the direct free throw after the buzzer was easily blocked by the Croatian wall.
Croatia take the two points. Iceland still have six points, but their future will depend on the results of the next games, and they will absolutely need a win against Montenegro.
And Iceland lead again, for the first time since early in the half. The last five minutes are crucial. A win for the men in blue puts them in a very strong position before their last main round match against Montenegro.
In a bit of a momentum shift Iceland are back to within two and Croatia have had some bad luck. There's 10 minutes to play - either team could still win.
Another timeout for Iceland, followed by another mistake. They're playing seven-on-six, but lose the ball again to Croatia's intense defence and it's easy for Marin Jelinic to score into the empty goal. Croatia lead 19:14.
Hard moments for Iceland here. Croatia are on the run and Ivan Pesic is on fire, making a string of saves and stopping almost everything Iceland are throwing at him. Croatia lead 16:14.
Gudmundur Gudmundsson calls a timeout - let's see what that does.
Ómar Ingi Magnusson is tackled by Ivan Martinovic far from the 9m line and goes down hard, tumbling head-over-heels and not getting up for a while. It goes to video replay and no further sanction is given.
Sigvaldi Gudjonsson then scores, making it level again after Croatia previously took the lead. It's been a very good restart for the Cowboys who are living up to their reputation as fighters.
We're back underway, and while Viktor Hallgrímsson makes the first save Iceland lose the ball and Zvonimir Srna scores to make it a one-goal game. Then Iceland fumble it again, steal it back, and finally Sigvaldi Gudjonsson nets.
16:11 | HALF-TIME
ICELAND 12:10 CROATIA
When Iceland looked like they were going to extend their five-goal lead, Croatia dug in. And a couple of defensive errors by Iceland gave Croatia four penalties in that half, all of which they scored. As Tin Lucin netted just before the half-time buzzer the score is only 12:10 in Iceland's favour, and they are not yet home and dry. Kevin Domas has more:
How can you keep up with a team which has a goalkeeper stopping more than half the shots he has taken? Clearly, Croatia are in trouble at the moment, as Viktor Hallgrímsson delivered yet another masterclass during the first half. For now, Iceland are clearly controlling the game, thanks to their defensive performance, but with only two goals separating the two sides at half-time, everything remains open ahead of the second half.
Björgvin Pall Gustavsson comes on to take an Ivan Cupic penalty, and misses the save. Croatia have had a slightly better spell, closing the gap to 7:10 from 5:10. It's been a bit scrappy and slow for a while, with the battle for possession intense and forcing both teams into mistakes.
Croatia are making too mistakes and Iceland are punishing each and every one. Not only are they scoring on every Croatia turnover and counterattack, but Viktor Hallgrímsson has made six saves from 10 shots, which is extraordinary.
Iceland have their first suspension, as newcomer Darri Aronsson is sent off. Tin Lucin then uses the opportunity for a beautiful no-look goal.
Iceland just have the edge, but at 5:4 it's awfully close between two teams with contrasting styles.
Viktor Hallgrímsson makes his fourth save of the game - only eight minutes have gone! Every time he turns to the Icelandic fans in the stand behind and they reward him with enthusiastic chants of "Viktor Gísli".
Croatia are defending hard and making it tough for Iceland to score, but they have also been punished for this too with one suspension and now a penalty, successfully taken by Ómar Ingi Magnusson. Iceland lead 4:2.
Ivan Pesic started things off well for Croatia with a good save, and Ivan Martinovic backed that up with a goal at the other end. However now Iceland have levelled, in the wake of a Viktor Hallgrímsson save. Hallgrímsson has started for Iceland, over Björgvin Pall Gustavsson, in a sign of Gudmundur Gudmundsson's confidence in him after Saturday's outstanding outing.
They've put it away now, but earlier in the warm-up some Croatian fans unveiled a banner thanking Iceland 'for 19/01/1991' and saying they would not forget.
What happened on 19 December 1991? On that day Iceland became the first Western nation to formally recognise Croatia as an independent state after it broke away from what was then Yugoslavia, alongside Slovenia.
Iceland's number one goalkeeper Björgvin Pall Gustavsson is back on court tonight, free from Covid isolation. That takes some pressure off the young shoulders of Viktor Hallgrímsson, who was so extraordinary against France the other night.
Did you know Viggo Kristjánsson, Iceland's right back, started out as a football player? He wasn't bad either, playing in the Europa League, but after switching to handball in 2016, now he's playing a key role for Iceland at the EHF EURO. Clearly a good decision!
We're reporting now from the arena, where two of the Tricky mascots, representing Iceland and Croatia, have taken part in a penalty shoot-out. Iceland won, 2:1 - will they triumph again in today's first match?
The wings were the stars of last night - three of our top five goals were scored by these nimble players. Hampus Wanne, Kristian Björnsen and Angel Fernandez all produced stunning goals. Backs Julian Köster and Szymon Sicko make up the best goals of the day.
The EHF Disciplinary Commission has rejected a protest made by Poland on the outcome of yesterday's match against Russia.
It's been wonderful to see so many fans in the arenas this tournament and lovely when the federations make an effort to thank them for their support.
You can still get tickets for the final weekend in Budapest - don't miss out on being part of what is shaping up to be a very special weekend of fantastic handball in an incredible arena.
They are the unsung heroes of any major sporting event - the volunteers. Without them, tournaments like the Men's EHF EURO 2022 simply wouldn't be able to run. Volunteers give up their time at big championships for the buzz of being part of something extraordinary, for the relationships that are built when in the cauldron of an arena, and to pick up skills they can take to other parts of their lives.
There are around 700 volunteers at the EHF EURO 2022 in Hungary, but they're not all Hungarian. As today's piece reveals, the team includes people from as far afield as Mexico and Egypt, all relishing being part of something special.
Watching up-and-coming players step into the limelight never gets boring. And while today's top five saves includes usual suspects like Andreas Palicka, Gonzalo Perez de Vargas and Johannes Bitter, it also includes Norway's Kristian Saeveraas, who is performing on an equal level with his colleague Torbjoern Bergerud so far - in six matches, he's made 30 saves (30.6 per cent).
On Saturday night in Budapest both France and the Netherlands had to play without their head coaches on court, due to Covid-19. For the Netherlands, it seemed to be a catalyst to lift their performance as they stormed to a win over Montenegro; France, in contrast, lost to Iceland in perhaps the biggest shock of the competition so far.
After the matches EHF journalist Kevin Domas caught up with assistant coaches Erick Mathé and Edwin Kippers, and, from his hotel room, Guillaume Gille, to find out how you play a major match without your guiding hand at the tiller.
Germany have reported two more positive Covid cases in their team after last night's loss to Sweden: Patrick Wiencek and Simon Ernst. That means they won't be available for the final match tomorrow.
Iceland also announced one new positive case yesterday: Daniel Tor Ingason. The left back has played two of their five matches, with 45 minutes on court, scoring twice. He tested positive in a rapid test at noon, and the federation said yesterday it was waiting for the results of a PCR.
The Dutch have confirmed no new positive tests, which is fantastic news after several key players were isolated.
No other new cases affecting players have been reported yet today by the nations left in the tournament.
The upsets keep on coming at EHF EURO 2022. Last night in Bratislava, Norway's defeat of Spain means the two group II tickets are up for grabs by three teams.
Tonight, Denmark have the same chance Spain had to book their ticket. They need to beat the Netherlands to do so, and that job got easier when Dutch ace Kay Smits tested positive for coronavirus yesterday. Yet, as the Dutch proved on Saturday, they cannot be underestimated in any circumstances and could still pull off a shock.
Iceland vs Croatia and Montenegro vs France are also exciting matches with all teams technically in contention. Read the day preview to find out more about what is in store.