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31.10.2010, 22:07
Ten teams celebrate victories again
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Most of the favourites are in optimal position on their way to Serbia 2012 after Round 2 of the EHF EURO qualifiers.
 

Ten teams celebrate victories again

The national teams of Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden have made great steps towards the Men’s EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia with their second qualification victories in their second matches. Only Croatia (in Lithuania) and Sweden (in Israel) had more problems than expected.

The only big surprise was the Polish draw in Portugal. In four of the seven groups the wheat seems to be separated from the chaff as the leaders are ahead with a four points difference of the rest of the teams.

In Sarajevo the Balkan duel of Bosnia-Herzegovina and FYR Macedonia ended with a draw. The EHF EURO qualification will continue in March 2011.

Group 1:

Estonia – Hungary 19:31 (9:14)

Qualificant Estonia are still waiting for a point, whilst Hungary has reached the maximum of four points after the first two matches. Until 4:4, Estonia could catch up, then Hungary pre-decided the game with a 10:5 series until the break. Thanks to high-speed attacks after the break it took only 43 minutes before the distance was ten goals for the first time at 23:13, the biggest gap was 13 goals at the score of 29:16. Top scorers were Harsányi  with 8 goals for Hungary and Patrail with 4 goals for Estonia.

Bosnia-Herzegovina – FYR Macedonia 28:28 (15:13)

Thanks to this draw both Balkan teams still have chances to qualify for the EHF EURO in their neighbouring country Serbia. For Bosnia it was the first point, for FYR Macedonia the third after the victory against Estonia. The home team had the better start and extended the lead to 17:13 after the break, before the Macedonians – again led by Kiril Lazarov – improved and took an important point.

Group 2:

Lithuania – Croatia 19:21 (10:8)

It was hard work after a bad start, but EHF EURO 2010 silver medallist Croatia managed to take their points three and four in the second match. Lithuania played much stronger than expected and led 9:4, before the Croats woke up. Missing Ivano Balic, the Balkan players had more to shiver than they had hoped for. It took 45 minutes before the team of coach Slavko Goluza took the lead for the first time at the score of 14:13 – and after that did not give it from their hands. Lithuania are still waiting for their first point. The top-scorer of the match was Croat Vedran Zrnic with five goals.

Romania – Spain 20:35 (7:18)

Like Croatia, Spain is on the way to Serbia 2012 by winning their second qualification match. After an easy job against Lithuania, they did not have any problems to beat still pointless team from Romania on their ground. And like in the first match, as Lithuania only scored five goals in the first half, the defence was the Spanish key to success. Romania only scored seven times in the first 30 minutes in contrast to the 18 goals of Romero & co. Coach Rivera could save powers of some key players after the break – and still almost all Spanish field players scored against a disappointing Romanian team. Alexandru Stamate was the host’s top scorer with five goals, the same as Romero for Spain. In the upcoming two rounds favourites Croatia and Spain meet for the number one position in this group.

Group 3:

Portugal – Poland 27:27 (17:12)

A lucky point for Poland, as Portugal were close to a big surprise: After losing in Slovenia the Iberians improved more than 100 percent as Poland slept too deep in the second part of the first half. The game was equal until 10:10, before the host scored a 7:2 series. Poland was not effective enough in attack – maybe due to the fact that coach Bogdan Wenta gave a rest to Karol Bielecki. But then the Poles fought hard and thanks to three consecutive goals in the last minutes they were able to equalize and took an important, but very lucky point. As it is the first point for Portugal, Poland is second in their group with now three points.

Ukraine – Slovenia 25:31 (15:17)

With their second victory Slovenia continued their perfect start and took the lead in this group, whilst Ukraine still wait for their first point. After 5:5 the Balkan team was dominant and increased the distance to 17:15 at the break. Having their best period the host reduced several times to a one goal difference, before Slovenia decided the game thanks to eleven goals of Gajic and their better defence. At the score of 27:20 it was clear who the winner would be. Another match winner was goalkeeper Skof with 19 saves. Best Ukrainian scorer was Shevelev with six goals.

Group 4:

Montenegro – Slovakia 25:35 (13:19)

Thanks to 14 saves of outstanding goalkeeper Stochl the Slovaks celebrated in Montenegro – the second victory after beating Israel. For the host it was the second defeat in the EHF EURO qualification and they need a small miracle to overtake Sweden or Slovakia. The guest took the lead after an early 5:0 series thanks to a strong performance of Kukucka and extended to quite comfortable six goals at the break. Montenegro had enormous problems in the attack. But right at the start of the second half the host reduced the gap to 18:20 and had the hopes to turn the match. But they failed to beat Stochl again, so the Slovaks really overran the Balkan team in the last ten minutes. Top scorers were again (like on Wednesday) Martin Stranowsky with nine for Slovakia and Rakcevic with five for Montenegro.

Israel – Sweden 28:32 (13:15)

It was a much closer than expected match for the World Championship host in Rishion Zion. Israel fought harder as during their opening defeat in Slovakia, and Sweden had some problems in the defence so they could not decide the game very early. It was a real roller coaster game for both teams: Sweden started well, but Israel fought hard and equalized. Even after the break Israel was close to the big sensation: But after the score of 21:21, the Swedes – led by their top scorer Fredrik Petersson (eight goals) – took the game serious enough again and collected two points.

Group 5:

Latvia – Germany 18:36 (8:17)

After the lucky last second draw against Austria, Germany is back on track after the clearest result of all Round 2 qualifiers. Latvia – after being close to a sensation in Iceland on Wednesday – did not have any chance, as Germany played very concentrated in attack. With now three points the German national team leads the group thanks to the better goal difference over Austria, equal in points. Latvia is fourth with still zero points. Germany had a brilliant start and led 12:4 – the foundation for the clear victory. Latest at the score of 21:9 the match was decided, then coach Heiner Brand changed a lot but without consequences, as Latvia lacked power. Gensheimer, Klein, Glandorf and Christophersen scored each six times for the Germans, Straume and Lilienfelds each five times for the chanceless Latvian team.

Group 6:

Greece – Norway 25:32 (10:17)

Havard Tvedten was the Norwegian hero at their second victory in the second match by scoring eleven goals in Greece. By the saves of goalkeeper Steinar Ege and several counter attacks the Northern Europeans took control very early and were in lead with a seven goals difference at the break. As the Greek team reduced the gap from nine to five goals 14 minutes before the end Norwegian coach Robert Hedin played his time-out card. A successful tactic, as then Norway overran the Greek in their strongest period. The next two games in March against the Czech Republic (both equal in points with 4) might already decide about the group winner, both have best chances in this group. Top scorer for Greece was Riganas with five goals.

Group 7:

Switzerland – Denmark 25:36 (14:19)

On their way to Serbia: The away match in Switzerland was not a real hurdle for Denmark. As the host, who had played brilliant but lost in Russia on Wednesday, still wait for their first point, the Danes are close to book the EHF EURO ticket with their second clear victory. The "clash of the group titans" will follow in March when Denmark and Russia (both 4 points) meet in the direct encounters. Switzerland did not only lose the game but one of their strongest players – Manuel Liniger – due to a foot injury. The Swiss team started well and was on eye level with the Danes until the score of 8:8, before Denmark paved their way with a 8:2 series. In minute 47 the distance were ten goals for the first time (31:21), as the Swiss team was unable to break the Danish defence. Top scorers were Schmid (6 for Switzerland) and Hansen, Svan Hansen and Boesen with each five goals for Denmark.

Belarus – Russia 32:39 (18:19)

Thanks to an improvement after the break the Russians secured their second victory like Denmark and now have best possibilities to qualify for Serbia, as Belarus still have zero points on their account. The host played strong for 30 minutes against their "big brother", but did not have enough power to stand the Russians for 60 minutes.

Further qualification rounds:

  • Round 3: 09/10 March 2011
  • Round 4: 12/13 March 2011
  • Round 5: 08/09 June 2011
  • Round 6: 11/12 June 2011

TEXT: Björn Pazen
 
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