Russia had a fright. Winning by 15 goals to 11 at half time, the match ended in a well-deserved draw (26-26).
What a fantastic game of handball. The Argentineans, rising stars as their prestigious youth team comes through at the top level, gave the Russian team a fright, all the experience of Vladimir Maximov being needed to pull his side from defeat.
Russia, the current Olympic champion, started the game with its traditional defensive 5-1 formation and were soon three goals ahead, marking the Argentinean danger-man, Eric Gull, closely, with good reason: here was the man who had scored ten goals against Croatia. At half time, Russia led by 15 goals to 11 and everything seemed like a foregone conclusion.
Not so. Maurício Torres gave his team a rocket of a pep talk and the Pampas team came back with a determination which rocked the Russians out of their complacency. Too late. With goalkeeper Cristian Canzoneiro commanding the operations and Gull finding himself shooting positions from the second line, the score was soon level, despite the best efforts of the veteran Lavrov, 41, who wants to go to the Olympics next year.
With five minutes to go, Argentina was winning by two goals. It was then that Maximov had to use all his resources as team coach, willing his team on by force of mind and taking advantage of the sending off of Eric Gull. One minute before the end, the Russians seemed to have clinched it, 26-25. However, with 40 seconds remaining, the Argentineans equalised and fixed the final result in a nail-biting finish. Handball at its best.
The teams lined up as follows:
Argentina Canzoneiro; Marine (3), Crevatin, Guerra (2), Viscovich (5), Morlacco (3), Kogosek (2), Gull (8), Platti, Carrara, Carou and Civell (4). Team coach: Maurício Torres.
Russia Lavrov; Egorov (2), Gorpichine, Ivanov (5), Kokcharov (8), Krivoshlykov (2), Rastvortsev (6), Tchougai, Torgovanov (1), Toutchkin (2) and Moskalenko. Team coach: Vladimir Maximov.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru