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23.03.2012, 01:23
Austrian draw with Sweden
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FYR Macedonia, Hungary, Iceland, Poland and Serbia with victories in the third Round of the EHF EURO qualifications.
 

Austrian draw with Sweden

In today´s matches some of the favourites struggled hard, favourite France lost surprisingly to FYR Macedonia, injury-hit Serbia overcame Romania and inspired Austrians tied in a thrilling match with Sweden.

Hungary, Serbia, Sweden are well on the way to qualifying for the Netherlands, whilst Poland beat Great Britain and Iceland beat Switzerland in a clear manner to maintain their chances for EHF EURO qualifications.

Round 4 of the EHF EURO qualification will follow on the coming weekend.

Round 3, Day 2: 22 March 2012

Group 1

Hungary vs. Germany 25:23 (14:10)

Hungary successfully took revenge on Germany for the World Championships play-off loss from last year, where the Germans earned a WCh berth, and Hungary´s dreams of an Olympic Games qualification were eliminated.

A head-to-head duel at the start turned into a clear Hungarian lead towards the halfway stage of the first period.

Anita Görbicz and her team-mates dominated the first half and already led by six goals, but coach Heine Jensen´s team fought back hard and thanks to the goals of Nadja Nadgornaja (13 in total), the away side came as close as one goal after 34 minutes.

For 14 minutes Germany were very close to leveling the match, but Hungary always kept scoring to maintain a tiny advantage. With 12 minutes left in the game, the strong Germans leveled the score and then led by one goal - 20:21 – with nine minutes still to be played.

The hosts gave their utmost to turn the match again and with Anita Bulath´s goals Hungary had a three-goal advantage four minutes from the final whistle.

Despite great German effort, the difference didn´t change in the dying minutes, so Hungary takes the lead in the group, and Germany needs to win at home at the weekend to be equal on points with Hungary.

Group 2

Serbia vs. Romania 29:27 (17:11)

With their best performance in recent years, Serbia defeated Romania in front of 3000 vociferous spectators and have maximum points after three rounds before traveling to their neighbours for the return match.

Excellent defensive play and high-quality sharpshooters were the key elements in beating the away side. On the Serbian side, Andrea Lekić scored eight times, whilst Marina Dmitrović netted seven times.

Right from the start the hosts dominated with great will and determination, leading 6:3 and 9:5. 

With some Serbian fluctuations, Romania closed up to 9:7 with two straight goals, but the hosts were 'on fire' and extended the lead to five goals, thanks to their aggressive defence.

Romania´s head coach Radu Voina put his green card on the table, but the one minute intermission didn´t change anything and Serbia moved on to 17:10, and the biggest gap between the two nations.

In the second period the Romanians used the errors of Serbian attacks to move closer, and 20 minutes before the final whistle, they reduced the gap to three goals, with the hope of leveling and turning the match.

Three straight  Dmitrović goals within 90 seconds eliminated those dreams, and ten minutes later Serbia were six goals ahead again.

The experienced Romanians kept pushing hard and for Serbia it was not easy to score, as Romania again stood well in defence.

The dying minutes were exciting with the away team reducing the gap to three and then two goals, but centre-back Lekić scored her eighth goal and this meant two points for her side.

Group 3

Great Britain vs. Poland 20:33 (8:10)

With Poland´s victory over Great Britain, the Polish side collected their first two points in the qualification tournament, whilst for GB it´ll be tough to earn point(s) after today´s home defeat.

Two different halves were seen, the first period was head-to-head and Great Britain trailed by just 8:10 after 30 minutes, giving a good account of themselves after some hard training sessions in England.

After 19 minutes the Poles were only one goal ahead, and the hosts were playing exciting handball pushed on by their loyal fans in the stands. 

Despite a three-goal lead for Poland, GB were focused on their game plan and at the half-time buzzer the scoreboard showed a two-goal difference between the two teams. 

Polish Karolina Kudlacz meant the difference in the second period, as the Leipzig player scored several times and inspired her side to increase the lead minute-by-minute. 

The key to the Polish success was improving their game on the defensive side, with the result that the hosts often lost the ball, and with their counter attacks functioning extremely well, Poland scored several 'easy’ goals.

The score advantage of the Polish women continued to rise, and when it reached 17:10, Great Britain called a time out.

The intermission didn´t mean any spectacular change to the game, as Poland kept scoring and controlled the match till the final whistle.

Great Britian now have little chance of reaching this year's final tournament following defeats by Montenegro and Russia.

Group 4

FYR Macedonia vs. France 30:27 (18:14)

Before this game, France had never lost to FYR Macedonia, but their previous dominance was not enough on Thursday to win in Skopje, as the 'tricolor' lost by three goals.

The hosts were pushed hard by the vociferous public in the stands, whilst for France, nothing really worked.

Coach Olivier Krumbholz´s team had big holes in defence, and had difficulty organizing their offensive phases, whereas FYR Macedonia were on a high, and with the positive attitude of winning this important clash. The hosts were successful in almost everything they did on the court, while France lacked intensity and commitment.

France will have to prove on Sunday that Thursday´s defeat was just a one-off failure on their way to the EHF EURO, whilst FYR Macedonia will burn with the desire to defeat the French for the second time within a week.

Group 5

Austria vs. Sweden 26:26 (14:13)

The great fighting spirit of the Austrians meant the first point for coach Herbert Müller´s team, whilst Sweden dropped their first point in a great thriller. 

Despite a good Swedish start the hosts didn´t fear the stronger back-line of the Scandinavians and focusing on their weapons, Gorica Acimovic and her team-mates used their best handball knowledge put up an equal fight to the more favoured Swedish players.

Young prospect Sonja Frey gave a tremendous performance at the middle-back position, Acimovic rifled several distance shots into Cecilia Grubbström´s goal, whilst Simona Spiridon made the line her playground.

On the other hand, European Chamionship silver medallist Sweden were strong on the back-court and extremely fast on their counter attacks.

Sweden were hoping to break the hosts' first half dominance, but Austria pushed hard and the Scandinavians often failed against Hypo Niederösterreich goalkeeper Petra Blazek, who shone between the sticks, producing several athletic saves.

Towards the end Sweden turned the match thanks to their experience, but Müller´s team remained focused and motivated enough to attain a successful draw that gives them the chance of remaining in the race for a EHF EURO spot.

Group 7

Switzerland vs. Iceland 19:26 (12:15)

A convincing Icelandic victory over 'underdog' Switzerland in an away game: the win was never really in danger, so the Scandinavians can look forward to another game on Sunday, on home turf, where they´ll be the strong favourites.

Iceland quickly led by two goals at the start, and their defence was impressively tight. However, the Swiss girls recovered quickly from the early away lead at the halfway stage of the first period and found a better rhythm, coming as close as three goals at half-time.

The Icelandic girls displayed some brilliant defending in the second half and so the Scandinavians had no problems in bringing home the two points.

The difference could have been much higher, but the away side squandered many chances through lack of concentration. Even so, their performance was enough to collect two points in the race for an EHF EURO berth.


Further Information

Find more information on the Women's EHF EURO 2012 Qualification HERE.

View more detailed information on the event on the Official EHF EURO 2012 Website.
www.ehf-euro.com/NED2012/

 


TEXT: Márk Hegedüs
 
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