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14.03.2011, 10:58
Hungary and Croatia qualify for EHF EURO 2012
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Sweden and Norway take revenge and remain on track on the road to Serbia.
 

Hungary and Croatia qualify for EHF EURO 2012

Joining hosts Serbia and reigning champions France, the first two teams have qualified for the EHF EURO 2012: Thanks to four victories in four matches both Hungary and Croatia booked their tickets to the final tournament. Besides the two, Austria is the only unbeaten team after four Rounds. Sweden (against Slovakia), Germany (against Iceland) and Norway (against Czech Republic) took revenge for their Round 3 defeats on Wednesday.

Group 1

Hungary vs. FYR Macedonia 29:26 (16:13)

Hungary has qualified for the EHF EURO 2012. As the first team with four victories in four matches they marched through the qualification. The Hungarians rank first in their group with eight points, FYR Macedonia is only third and with one point less than Estonia before the last two rounds. The match on home ground meant much more work for the Hungarians as they had had in FYR Macedonia on Wednesday (29:22). It took the hosts 24 minutes before they took the lead for the first time at the score of 11:10. At the break the distance had risen to three goals. But the Balkan team fought hard in Veszprem. In minute 48 the gap was still three goals (21:24) before the Hungarians – who had to replace Nandor Fazekas and Tamas Mocsai – started their final spurt. Four minutes before the end the game was decided at the score of 28:23. Harsanyi and Ilyes (in his 150th international match) scored six times for the hosts.

Group 2

Croatia vs. Spain 23:21 (15:12)

Croatia has qualified for the EHF EURO 2012. Thanks to their second close victory over Spain within four days the Balkan team booked their ticket to their neighbouring country Serbia. Surprisingly the Iberians find themselves equal in points with Lithuania after four Rounds, but still in the favourite role for the second group ticket to Serbia. In the game the teams were on eye level until 11:11 before the Croats rushed away to 15:12 at the break. By increasing the gap to 17:12 thanks to their strong defence the winner’s road was paved. Even as the Spaniards improved in the final stage of the game, their catch-up chase came to late. The match was decided latest at the score of 23:19. Vukovic was the Croatian top scorer with five goals, but the match winner was goalkeeper Sego. Canellas scored four times for Spain.

Romania vs. Lithuania 25:27 (11:13)

Despite a strong performance of goalkeeper Mihai Popescu, the Romanians are out of the EHF EURO race after their fourth defeat. Coach Vasile Stinga had to replace some key players who got injured in the first defeat on Wednesday. Even as his team was close to success the players failed in the decisive moments. So Lithuania took their points three and four and are equal with Spain in the ranking after four Rounds.

Group 3

Ukraine vs. Portugal 29:25 (16:15)

Ukraine managed to take revenge and decreased Portugal’s hope for the EHF EURO. This victory meant the first points for the Ukraine, as Portugal with three points remain behind Slovenia (6) and Poland (5). The Iberians now have to rely on a victory over Slovenia on home soil in June to remain on the way to Serbia, as a draw would be enough for the Balkan team to qualify. If Poland win in the Ukraine on the next match day they would also qualify – in case of a Slovenian draw in Portugal. Krivchikov and Ostroushko were the Ukrainian top scorers with each six goals, Tavares scored seven times for Portugal.

Group 4

Montenegro vs. Israel 36:27 (21:12)

Thanks to a strong performance in the first half Montenegro "equalized" in the matches against Israel after the defeat on Wednesday. Both teams have two points but rank already four points below the leading duo from Sweden and Slovakia. At the score of 11:7 for the hosts, the match – which started with 20 minutes delay – had to be stopped due to spectator disturbance. When the game was restarted Montenegro easily increased the gap to nine goals at the break – and kept this distance until the end.

Sweden vs. Slovakia 26:21 (12:9)

Nothing is decided yet but thanks to their victory on home soil Sweden is back on track for Serbia. After the close defeat in Slovakia now the Scandinavian team was dominant. Match winners were goalkeeper Johan Sjöstrand and Niclas Ekberg with eleven goals for the Swedes. On the other side Slovak goalkeeper Richard Stochl played outstanding – until he was hit in his face by a shot of Dalibor Doder. Sweden started well with a 9:5 lead before the Slovaks improved. But it was no real catch-up chase as the host overran their opponent after the break. It only took 14 minutes until the game was decided at the score of 20:11. In the final stage the hosts decelerated and the Slovaks came closer, but without the chance to endanger the blue and yellow shirted team. Both teams are now equal with six points and have the chance to book their tickets to Serbia simultaneously in Round 5.

Group 5

Germany vs. Iceland 39:28 (20:13)

Germany took their last chance to keep hope alive. But despite the clear victory against Iceland they still need two more victories to secure their EHF EURO ticket. The hosts played much more efficient in attack and aggressive in defence compared to their defeat in Iceland on Wednesday. Also goalkeeper Silvio Heinevetter saved in an outstanding way. One of the biggest disadvantages for Iceland was that they had to replace their goalkeeper Björgvin Gustavsson – match winner on Wednesday – due to an eye injury. From the first minute on Germany played like in their best times and put the Nordic opponents under pressure. At the half time break the margin was seven goals, latest in minute 42 and the score of 27:16 the match was decided. Thanks to this clear result the Germans won the direct encounter. With five points they leapfrogged Iceland (4) and rank second. As both teams still meet Latvia the duels with Austria (7 points) will decide this group. Germany’s top scorer was Pascal Hens with seven goals.

Group 6

Norway vs. Czech Republic 24:22 (15:13)

Unlike their first encounter, the Norwegians now managed to stop Filip Jicha. So Norway was able to take revenge for the defeat on Wednesday. Both opponents lead the group ranking with each six points, but the Czech Republic won the direct encounter thanks to their 29:26 victory four days ago. The starting period was equal with advantages for the Czech, but in minute 26 Norway took the lead for the first time. Right after the break the Norwegians extended the gap to 17:13 and kept this distance until the final stage before the guests reduced to two goals in the end. While Jicha – who had scored 13 goals on Wednesday – only hit the back of the net three times, Hansen scored eight goals for Norway.

Group 7

Belarus vs. Switzerland 26:24 (12:14)

Belarus still can hope for qualification to the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia: After their second victory over Switzerland (after the 34:31 on Wednesday) the team of top star Siarhei Rutenka has four points and rank two points below the leading duo Russia and Denmark. The Belarusians will now meet both in their last encounters. After the Swiss team was in lead at the break, Belarus turned the game with four straight goals to 16:15. Seven minutes before the end the game was equal again at 22:22 and the Swiss could hope for a victory until the 24:23 for the host. But with two of in total nine Rutenka goals Belarus won and therefore remain in the race for Serbia. Goepfert and Kurth each scored five times for Switzerland. With still zero points their team cannot qualify to the tournament anymore.

The qualification continues with the last two rounds 5 and 6, which will be carried out on 08/09 and 11/12 June 2011. The final tournament draw will take place on 15 June 2011 in Belgrade.

Find more information at the official EHF EURO website, http://www.ehf-euro.com/srb2012/

Also, you are welcome to join the growing fan community of the event on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/srb2012


TEXT: Björn Pazen
 
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