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26.03.2012, 00:06
Czech Republic advance to the EHF EURO
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Sweden are through as well and will play at the continental event in the Netherlands.
 

Czech Republic advance to the EHF EURO

With today´s Czech victory against Slovenia, the first and second ranked nations in Group 5, Sweden and Czech Republic have earned EHF EURO berths and will be part of the continental event in the Netherlands.

In the other pairings, France, Germany, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine took revenge for their defeats earlier in the week, whilst Belarus, Iceland, Poland and Slovakia celebrated another victories in their encounters.

Round 4, Day 2: 25 March 2012

Group 1

Germany vs. Hungary 26:18 (13:9)

Germany ironed out their failure from the Thursday match to clearly defeat Hungary and is now group leader thanks to their better goal difference.

Hungarian National Team coach Karl Erik Böhn surprised the opponents by using his bench players from the start, and an equal head-to-head duel ensued with neither of the teams taking a bigger advantage.

This situation changed from the tenth minute with Germany scoring five straight goals for a 9:3 lead. In that phase, Laura Steinbach especially gave a remarkable performance, scoring several goals from the back-court.

Nothing changed in the second period, when Germany moved on with a strong performance and increased the lead minute-by-minute. Hungary´s first-choice stars remained on the bench, so the hosts celebrated a clear victory.

Belarus vs. Azerbaijan 33:25 (18:13)

Easy walkover for Belarus against Azerbaijan. The clear home victory means third place in the group and the second Belarussian victory in a week.

The game had already been decided in favour of the hosts during the first period, and they controlled the match with ease in the second half, starting several counter attacks thanks to lost balls on the Azerbaijan side.

With a safe goal difference between the two teams, Belarus tried to develop their game with positional attacks, and at the halfway stage of the second period, their bench players received a great opportunity to present themselves, and they didn’t disappoint. 

Belarus continued to impress and won its first home match in the group to satisfy the numerous spectators in the stands.

Group 3

Russia vs. Montenegro 24:23 (12:12)

Coach Evgeny Trefilov´s Russia defeated Montenegro with the same goal difference that the away side had won with in Podgorica earlier this week. This means that both teams lead the group with six points after four rounds and have the best chances to qualify to the EHF EURO in the Netherlands.

Montenegrin coach Dragan Adzic decided to rest some of his players from Buducnost, as on the upcoming two weekends, his club team will play a vital semi-final against Norwegian title-holder Larvik and he wanted to avoid any injuries.

Despite missing several key players Montenegro remained in touch throughout a match that was only decided in the last minutes in favour of Russia.

Poland vs. Great Britain 29:20 (16:8)

Another two points for Poland against Great Britain means third rank in the group and still chances for earning an EHF EURO, but for this the Polish need to compete against strong sides like Montenegro and Russia in the last two rounds of the qualification tournament.

The away side was equal with their opponents for about 15 minutes, but then Poland took the initiative and ruled the match with a tight defence and effective fastbreaks.

Poland ran away to a quick 3:0 after 5 minutes, but simple lost balls and unprepared shots allowed the Brits to quickly equalize.

After a quarter, the hosts only led by 7:6 with Great Britain producing an equal performance and forcing Poland into a time out which helped the east Europeans to stabilize their game plan and move on with another four goals.

The Polish defense stood well and with speedy counter attacks the home side increased their massive lead by half-time.

In the second period the hosts continued to impress and rallied on with 20:9 after 35 minutes, and then it was clear that nothing could endanger their victory.

Great Britain didn´t give up, and tried to fight hard, but the technical and physical superiority was clearly on the side of the Polish team. Despite this, the away team showed some spectacular action and nice goals to reduce the gap between the two sides.

Group 4

Turkey vs. Lithuania 36:31 (17:15)

Turkey took great revenge for the loss in Lithuania earlier in the week and celebrated victory in a high-paced match, where defences seemed to be of little importance.

With the hosts' victory, everything is open now again in the group, as three nations (Turkey, FYR Macedonia and Lithuania) have a chance to progress to the EHF EURO, with France topping the group after four rounds.

France vs. FYR Macedonia 40:20 (19:12)

Another defeat to FYR Macedonia after the Thursday loss (27:30) was never an option in today´s match for France. The 'tricolor' showed today that the game in Skopje had only been a momentary glitch, and went on to crush their Balkan opponents.

Led by wing player Siraba Dembele, the French side slammed in four goals in the first four minutes, destabilising the FYR Macedonians, who were never able to keep pace.

Coach Olivier Krumbholz´s players were well organized in defence, and increased their standing from the start of the second period through a series of seven goals in a row.

The 4500 spectators in the Arena of Clermont-Ferrand supported the home side with loud chants, helping their team to pocket the two home points without breaking stride.

Group 5

Slovenia vs. Czech Republic 21:29 (10:15)

The Czech Republic wrote history in Ljubljana, as with their second victory in a week against Slovenia, they moved to second spot in the group, and neither Slovenia, nor bottom team Austria, can move ahead of them. This means that the team will be part of the EHF EURO in December 2012.

With the Czech win, group leader Sweden are also through, so everything is decided in the group after four rounds.

With a slow start in the game, Czech Republic established a two-goal lead that forced Slovenian coach Tone Tiselj to place his green card on the table to implement new plans for his side. 

In contrast, it was the Czechs who increased the speed of the game and rallied on with 13:9 and 15:10.

The hosts played collectively, and on the hosts' side it was only left-handed back-court player Ana Gros who tried to keep the distance between the two teams. Even so, after 40 minutes the Czechs already led 21:14.

In the last 10 minutes nothing changed. The away side was dominant and after this clear victory, big celebrations started in Ljubljana that will surely continue in Prague and several other Czech cities.

Group 6

Slovakia vs. Italy 23:15 (13:8)

The Slovakian national team has its second victory on its account in the EHF EURO qualification tournaments after beating Italy in an impressive manner. 

Italy are without points in the competition, whilst Slovakia will battle with Denmark for the second spot for EHF EURO - Croatia are already through after yesterday´s victory over the Scandinavians.

Italy made the better start in the game with a 2:0 lead, but the hosts turned the result with three straight goals to a 3:2 lead in minute nine.

The hosts found the rhythm of the match and moved on with 9:4 to force the Italian team into a time out. However the little intermission didn´t help the away team, as Slovakia remained focused and led 10:4 and 12:6.

A courageous fight in the second period from the Italian players meant that the difference melted to two goals only (14:16), but the hosts came back from their fluctuations and established a four-goal lead 10 minutes before the final whistle.

In the dying minutes Italy ran out of pace, whilst the hosts maintained and increased their lead for a clear win.

Group 7

Spain vs. Ukraine 27:28 (13:10)

Despite a half-time lead hosts Spain lost to Ukraine in a tight match, so both teams collected two points each in their direct encounters and rank first and second in the group.

The start had been positive for the Iberians, as Macarena Aguilar and her team-mates overcame the opponents´ defence by supplying quality balls to the fast wingers, Carmen Martin and Jessica Alonso. Armed by leads of 8:7 and 11:9 Spain were able to increase the tempo in the dying minutes of the first period, which enabled the hosts to lead by plus three.

The dynamics in the second period were not much different from the first half, as Spain moved on to 18:14, but then, four straight strikes from the Ukrainian side meant a draw again. 

Ukraine fought hard in that phase, not willing to give up the match and within minutes they leveled the score and kept the game open (23:23).

From this moment onwards, the performance of several Spanish players showed tiredness and physical discomfort, while in the tight finish Ukraine scored for victory at the buzzer to the great disappointment of the local supporters.

Iceland vs. Switzerland 31:16 (15:9)

No surprise in Iceland, as the hosts clearly outclassed Switzerland to claim their second victory in a week and maintain their chances for an EHF EURO qualification. The Icelandic team will compete with Ukraine and Spain in the last two rounds for the two open spots.

Iceland´s victory was as convincing as the great gap in goal difference between the two teams, with the win having already been sealed after 30 minutes of home dominance.

The away side from Switzerland only scored three goals in the first 17 minutes as the Scandinavian defence looked very tight and Iceland went on to build a clear lead.

In the second period the huge difference between the two sides was obvious again with Iceland scoring at will, even though the Icelandic game was far from flawless.

Despite those mistakes in the Icelandic game plan, Switzerland gave up early and so the hosts marched through their opponents like a hot knife through butter.

Round 5 of the EHF EURO qualification will follow late May.

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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