In a nail-biter Friday, the Iceland men’s national handball team managed a late-game onslaught to secure a draw against Serbia in both countries’ opening game of the 2024 European men’s handball championship.
The match took place in Munich’s Olympic Hall and began with a strong defensive effort from both teams, as Iceland’s goalkeeper Viktor Gísli Hallgrímsson blocked a couple of difficult shots. After leading at half-time by one goal, Iceland saw Serbia begin to pull away. Led by top goalscorer Dragan Pechmalbec, Serbia held on to their advantage until the final two minutes. Two late goals from Aron Pálmarsson and the equaliser from Sigvaldi Björn Guðjónsson saved Iceland’s team from an opening loss.
Bjarki Már Elísson scored seven goals for Iceland, while Sigvaldi contributed six. Goalkeeper Viktor blocked 14 shots.
Next up, Montenegro
This edition of the tournament is hosted by Germany. After securing qualification and becoming one of the 24 national teams taking part, Iceland was drawn to face Hungary and Montenegro, along with Serbia, in the tournament’s Group C. The group’s top two teams will move on to the tournament’s main round and, if successful there, the knockout stage. With Hungary beating Montenegro in their opener, Iceland and Serbia are now tied for Group C’s second place with one point each.
“I’m not so happy with the performance,” Bjarki said after the game. “I thought we didn’t play so good through the match and we have to do better in the next one for sure. But we take the point to go on for sure.” Iceland will face Montenegro on Sunday and Hungary on Tuesday to close out Group C action, with both games taking place in the Olympic Hall.
The Iceland men’s national handball team has historically been very competitive on the international stage and the sport is very popular in Iceland. The team’s greatest success was the silver medal in the 2008 Olympic Games in China.
This was the second time Iceland faced Serbia in the opening game of a men’s Euro tournament and the second time that opener ended with a draw. After their first Euro match-up in 2010, Iceland went on to secure their best result ever in the tournament by winning the bronze medal.