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08.01.2012, 16:25
Finland win, Italy tie, Luxemburg lose thriller
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Round 4 of the World Championship qualification matches.
 

Finland win, Italy tie, Luxemburg lose thriller

It was a day of surprises and sensations in the first part of the European qualification for the Men’s World Championship 2013 in Spain. After seven clear results in Round 3, the underdogs hit back in the re-matches of Round 4.

Finland beat Estonia, and Italy tied with Lithuania. Luxemburg went close to a sensation against Belarus, while Montenegro was the only favourite to go win without many problems in Belgium. Round 4 will continue on Sunday.

The winners of those seven Groups, which will be known after Rounds 5 and 6 until 15 January, qualify for the Play-offs in June.

Group 3:
Belgium vs. Montenegro 33:37 (13:21)

Montenegro are looking good to reach the play-offs after the two Rounds against Belgium. The Balkan team, which won the first encounter on home ground 35:27, secured the away game after 30 minutes with a clear eight-goal margin. Thanks to the goals of Thomas Cauwenberghs and Roel Valkenborgh the host reduced the gap, but could not threaten the Montenegrinian victory and remain bottom of the table. On the other hand, Montenegro will now fight with Latvia (both on four points) for top spot next week.

Group 4:
Finland vs. Estonia 28:27 (14:14)

Jac Karlsson was the Finnish hero in a nail-biting thriller in Karis. Thanks to his 12 goals the hosts took revenge for the close 27:31 defeat on Thursday. Both teams are equal on points now, but Finland have completed their matches. Estonia now need two victories against the Netherlands to be sure of topping the group and qualifying for the play-off games in June. After trailing 8:12 in the early stages Finland improved, equalised at the break and secured a close victory thanks to the goals of Karlsson and Oskar Kihlstedt. After being three times close to a victory before, the Finnish dream came true now.

IHF2013ITALTU560

 

Group 5:
Italy vs. Lithuania 25:25 (14:11)

After three defeats against Switzerland and Lithuania, Italy finished their WCh qualification campaign with a surprising but well-deserved draw against the favoured Baltic team. After the clear 25:34 defeat on Thursday in Lithuania, Italy were much improved and they had more chances to take the win than their rivals, for whom the draw was a lucky result. The Italians led with a three-goal margin at the break, and like in their close 25:27 defeat against Switzerland they were strong in defence for 60 minutes. The Baltic team now are one point below Switzerland before the pivotal encounters for the Group victory.

 

Group 7:
Luxemburg vs. Belarus 32:33 (14:14)

They went close to staging one of the biggest sensation in the World Championships qualifiers in recent years, but in the end Luxemburg missed a victory against the experienced Belorussian team in the last minute. After an equal first half, Luxemburg led after the break by up to three goals, but they lacked power and concentration in the end. 30 seconds before the final whistle, Belarus scored the decisive goal. Jeff Decker missed the equaliser by hitting the bar in the very last second. Lucky Belarus – far away from their Wednesday performance (37:19 on home ground) - now will face Romania in the decisive Rounds for the Group victory.

 

Round 4 of the Men’s 2013 World Championship qualification will be finalised on Sunday with these three games:

Group 1: Great Britain vs. Austria
8 January 2012 14:00 hrs (local time), London

Group 2: Turkey vs. Portugal
8 January 19:00 hrs (local time), Mersin 

Group 6: Cyprus vs. Greece
8 January 2012 17:00 hrs (local time), Nicosia 


TEXT: Björn Pazen
 
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