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16.01.2012, 10:48
Penalty thriller ends in Swiss failure
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European World Championship qualification completed: Portugal, Estonia, Bosnia and Belarus proceed to play-offs
 

After Austria, Montenegro and Netherlands qualified for the European World Championship Play-offs on Saturday the final four Group Winners were established on Sunday. Bosnia Herzegovina and Portugal remained unbeaten, while Belarus and Lithuania had to wait until the very end to hear their fate.

The seven winners of the those qualification groups will meet 11 teams from the 16 participating in the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia who don’t qualify directly for the 2013 Men's World Championship in Spain (13 to 27 January 2013).

 

The teams which will qualify automatically for the final tournament in Spain are:
France (defending champion), Spain (hosts) and the three best ranked teams from the EHF EURO 2012.

 

The playing dates for the nine play-off matches are:
First leg: 9/10 June 2012
Second leg: 16/17 June 2012

 

The nine winners of the play-off matches will qualify for the 2013 Men's World Championship in Spain, where 14 European teams will battle among a total of 24 teams.

The draw for the play-off matches will take place on the final day of the EHF EURO 2012 on 29 January 2012 in Belgrade. The draw procedure will be published after the completion of the preliminary round.

Group 2:
Portugal vs. Ukraine 27:26 (15:13)

After their 25:21 away victory in Ukraine the Portuguese team secured their place among the play-offs with a close but well-deserved victory. The hosts led for almost the whole match and was only challenged with the score of 25:25. But knowing that even a three-goal defeat would be enough they kept their heads and decided the game in the final minutes.

Group 5:
Lithuania vs. Switzerland 24:24 (12:15)

The Lithuanians danced on the field, while the Swiss team could not comprehend what had happened: After their home defeat against Lithuania in Round 5, Switzerland needed a victory to proceed to the Play-offs. And they had a great chance to, as they received a penalty shot with the final whistle at the score of 24:24. But Marcel Liniger failed to convert, Switzerland was out and Lithuania celebrated. The guests led most of the time – and even two minutes before the end they were in front by two goals, before Rackauskas und Atajevas equalized in the final minute. But match winner was goalkeeper Vaskevicius, who shut up shop in the crucial moments. In the final ranking Lithuania (six points) was ahead of Switzerland (five points).

Group 6:
Greece vs. Bosnia Herzegovina 22:23 (8:8)

This match was another highlight of the qualification round in ‘fortress Thessaloniki’. After the Bosnians had won a close first encounter 31:29, Greek hopes were high, but the game was decided in the middle of the second half. Match winner for the Bosnians was goalkeeper Emir Tahirovic with 19 saved shots. Bosnia led 7:4, before the hosts equalised at the break, but both teams were very weak in attack in the first 30 minutes. However, Bosnia took control of the match after play resumed and extended the gap to 17:12. The Greeks tried to hit back but Bosnia rolled the score on to 21:15. The Greek fighting spirit was still alive – however, turning the game completely was impossible. Karadzic was the top scorer for the winners with seven goals.

Group 7:
Belarus vs. Romania 28:23 (15:12)

Group 7 saw the tightest of all decisions in the seven qualification groups, with goal difference deciding the fate with both teams were equal with six points. After losing 22:25 in Romania, Belarus secured their place among the play-off participants with a five-goal margin in the re-match. Until the break the Romanians were still on track, even when they were behind by three goals early in the match. But then a ten minute spell proved decisive, as Belarus extended the gap to 21:12 thanks to six straight goals. In the end the five goal difference was enough to eliminate Romania.

 


TEXT: Björn Pazen
 
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