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25/01/2016

Lazarov shines in Macedonian draw against Norway

REVIEW: In a Main Round Group 1 thriller Norway fought themselves back into the game following a five-goal deficit at the half to eventually tie with FYR Macedonia 31:31

Photo: Uros Hocevar

Kiril Lazarov scored 11 goals and Filip Mirkulovski scored the game-tying goal with 90 seconds to go, when FYR Macedonia shared the spoils with Norway in the team's first duel on EHF EURO level.

Norway's hopes to reach the championship's semi-final for the first time are still alive as the surprise package of Poland 2016 currently tops Main Round Group 1 in Krakow with seven points.

But it is likely that they still have to confirm their position in their last game against defending champions France on Wednesday.

Lazarov was named player of the match, a game in which his team squandered a five-goal lead deep in the second half. Kristian Bjornsen led Norway with six goals in his 50th international.

"We had a very good first half and 15 minutes of the second half. I do not know why we always lose concentration in the end," said Macedonian goalkeeper Borko Ristovski.

"We should have won that game earlier. More or less the same happened to us against France, against Poland and now against Norway. We have to improve that if we want to achieve success in the future."

There is no easy match at the EHF EURO, and the encounter between semi-final contenders Norway and FYR Macedonia, who played literally just for pride, was a clear proof of this from the game's very first moments.

Norway's Espen Lie Hansen scored the first goal, but the Macedonians quickly responded and turned the tide, leading first 4:2 and then 6:4 10 minutes into the game.

FYR Macedonia's captain Lazarov returned on the high-scoring track after he had been held scoreless in the previous game against Croatia, and with seven goals in the first half he helped his team to extend the gap to four goals at 17:13 just before the break.

There were no signs of any Norwegian improvement despite some spectacular shooting stunts of Sander Sagosen in the second half – instead Ivica Obrvan's men continued with their spirited performance.

With 12 minutes into the second half, Lazarov chipped in his eleventh goal and his team was leading by five goals (24:19) at that stage.

But Norway refused to give up and with the help of two two-minute suspensions for FYR Macedonia they leveled the score at 22:22 eight minutes before the end.

"We didn’t play well in the first half. We made their goalkeeper look good. But we showed huge moral and we came back," said Norway's Espen Lie Hansen.

Norway were close to winning when Magnus Jondal granted them the lead again at 31:30, but both Sander Sagosen and Joakim Hykkerud failed to seal the deal and eventually Mirkulovski tied the game.

written by Vlado Brindzak / ts