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03.04.2013, 23:40
Four teams keep their clear records
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Spain and France win in dominant fashion, while Montenegro and Iceland clinch last second victories in round 3 of the EHF EURO 2014 qualification
 

Four teams keep their clear records

Courtesy of winning shots in the dying seconds of their respective matches, Montenegro and Iceland keep a clear record in their groups.

Like those two teams, Spain and France also took their third victories in their third match – but these were much easier earned.

Turkey and Latvia claimed their first points on Wednesday night (3 April), while Austria beat EHF EURO 2012 silver medallists Serbia.

An overview of all EHF EURO 2014 qualification matches is available here.

Group 1: FYR Macedonia vs. Spain 17:24 (7:13)

Courtesy to a brilliant start and a strong defence Spain kept their clean record in the EHF EURO 2014 qualification.

In their first official match after becoming world champions in January, Spain dominated the hosts throughout the entire match at will.

As FYR Macedonia missed their first five attacks - including a penalty shot -, Spain could power away with a 4:0 lead and extended the gap easily as the number of mistakes in the Macedonian attack did not decrease until the break.

It took FYR Macedonia 22 minutes until they had scored five goals, and only their strong defence prevented them from an even bigger gap.

However, in the final minutes of the first half, Spain forged ahead to a seven goal lead – which proved too big for FYR Macedonia as they could not catch up after the break.

By allowing Macedonian top star Kiril Lazarov to score only one goal in 60 minutes, Spain built the base for the clear victory, which was not threatened any point.

The biggest gap was eight goals at 23:15.

Top scorers were Victor Tomas (Spain) with five goals and the Macedonian trio Mirkulovski, Mojsovski and Nedanovski with three goals each.

FYR Macedonia remain on two points, while Spain can potentially already book their ticket to Denmark in the re-match on home ground on Sunday.

Group 2: Montenegro vs. Israel 29:28 (12:15)

Montenegro were about to fall, but in the end stood strong against a surprisingly strong Israeli squad.

Because of their third victory in their third match Montenegro remain on top of the group and can follow the encounter, Czech Republic vs. Germany, on Thursday in a relaxed fashion.

But the match against Israel (still on zero points) was much tougher than expected. As in qualification round 2 when they met Germany, Israel were well organised and were on the edge of winning until the end.

Montenegro were in the lead only five times during the 60 minutes – at 1:0, 21:20, 22:21, 27:26 and at the final whistle.

The match was level until the score of 10:10, before Israel powered away to 15:11 – the biggest gap in the entire match.

In their strongest period right after the break, Montenegro first equalised at 18:18 and then took the lead – bur never managed to increase the gap to a decisive margin.

The Israeli team of Serbian coach Dragan Djukic fought like lions and were in the better position two minutes before the end, leading 28:27.

However, a penalty goal by Fahrudin Melic and a goal by Mladen Rakcevic nine seconds before the end, made Montenegro celebrate – finally when Chen Pomeranz missed the last chance for Israel in the penultimate second.

Top scorers in this thrilling match were Drasko Mrvaljevic (7 goals for Montenegro) and Pomeranz, Smoler and Rosental, who scored six goals each for Israel.

Group 3: Turkey vs. Lithuania 27:26 (12:11)

The incredible amount of eleven goals by Ramazan Döne paved the way for the first Turkish victory in the EHF EURO 2014 qualification, while the Lithuanians still wait for their first points.

The match at Cankava was on the edge for 60 minutes, with constantly changing leads.

After Turkey led 11:6, Lithuania closed the gap to only one goal at the break and even took a 14:12 lead at the start of the second half.

15 minutes before the end the hosts took the lead again at 18:17, but could not forge ahead to more than two goals until the final whistle.

When Durmus Mutlu netted to make it 27:25 90 seconds before the end, the deal seemed to be sealed.

But Mindaugas Andriuska scored to make it 26:27 – and in the hectic last 15 seconds Lithuania had a two-men advantage after the exclusion of Göcmen and a two-minute suspension for Arifoglu, but failed to score.

Top scorer for Lithuania was Tomas Eitutis with eight goals.

Group 3: Norway vs. France 22:29 (12:12)

Thanks to an improvement after the break the current Olympics champions, France, remain with a 100 per cent clear record, but Norway (remaining on four points) was an equal rival for most of the match.

Missing several top players in their rejuvenated team, France had problems for a long time, but finally managed to claim the victory thanks to six goals of Luc Abalo and five each of the experienced duo Daniel Narcisse and Guillaume Joli in the first match without the legendary Didier Dinart (retired) in more than a decade.

On the Norwegian side Bjarte Myrhol was the man of the match, scoring eight times, including six strikes before the break.

Despite a 2:6 start, Norway returned to eye level and took the lead again at 12:11. In the second half the match was equal until the score of 19:20 in minute 50, before France scored five straight goals to make it 25:19, not giving up this lead until the final whistle.

Group 4: Latvia vs. Slovakia 28:24 (14:9)

The injury-hit Slovakian team was defeated for the third time in this qualification phase, so the chances for the ticket to Denmark have dropped significantly.

On the other side Latvia earned their first victory in this qualification.

Even eleven goals of FC Barcelona wing Martin Stranovsky were not enough for Slovakia to win.

After losing all matches during the EHF EURO 2012 qualification, Latvia seem to have come to life again.

But not their top star Dainis Kristopans (playing for Slovak club Tatran Presov and scoring four times) was the Latvian top scorer, but Ingars Dude with seven goals.

Thanks to an opening 9:3 series, the hosts had taken control of the match early on and were still away by five goals at the break.

The unstoppable Stranovsky brought Slovakia close to turning the match around at 19:18, but Latvia survived this crucial stage of the match, not giving away the lead from their hands.

Even a time-out at 22:19 did not stop the Slovak downswing, as Latvia at the latest decided the match at 26:21 nine minutes before the end.

Group 6: Romania vs. Belarus 31:34 (13:18)

It is good to have a world star like Siarhei Rutenka in  the ranks: The FC Barcelona player was the key for the Belarussian success, contributing eleven goals.

As the hosts still wait for their first point, Belarus now have three points in their account.

With his third goal, Rutenka extended the gap to 8:5 in the opening stages and his fifth goal gave his team a clear 18:13 lead at half-time.

His goals no. six and seven meant a six goal advantage for Belarus at 19:13 and 20:14 – and at the latest at 24:15 the match seemed to be decided after just 39 minutes.

However, the Romanians did not surrender, reduced the margin to only four goals at 26:30 with still nine minutes on the clock – and five minutes later they were close to turn the match around at 29:31.

But then it was again Siarhei Rutenka who scored the decisive 33:29 to finally earn his team two points. Best Romanian scorer was Florin Dospinescu with six goals.

Group 6: Slovenia vs. Iceland 28:29 (13:9)

What a thriller took place in Maribor! By taking the lead for the first time 90 seconds before the end, Iceland took their third victory, while Slovenia gave away a crucial win from their hands.

By scoring nine goals – including the decisive final one – Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson has now netted a total of 30 strikes in three qualification matches and is one goal behind Belarussian Siarhei Rutenka in the current top scorer list.

Slovenia dominated this match nearly throughout, but when the “Vikings” improved after the break, the advance melted like snow.

After an equal start, Slovenia were away by three goals for the first time at 9:6 and managed to increase the advantage to a half time score of 13:9 thanks to three straight goals before the break.

In the second half Iceland improved in attack and managed to reduce the gap, but did not manage to level the result or even take the lead for a long time.

In minute 47, outstanding wing player Sigurdsson equalised, making it 20:20, but still the Slovenian youngsters were able to fire back – the match was on the edge.

In the final stages, the run-down was always the same: Slovenia took the lead, Iceland equalised. But 95 seconds before the final whistle Kari Kristjan Kristjansson netted for the first ever lead for the 2008 Olympic silver medallists and made it 28:27.

The equaliser of Jure Dolenec was the last Slovenian sign of life, as 25 seconds before the end Sigurdsson scored the winning goal, while Slovenia’s last attack ended in a technical fault.

Vid Kavticnik and Sebastian Skube were Slovenian top scorers with five goals each. Their team remains on three points.

Group 7: Austria vs. Serbia 31:28 (16:17)

Everything is open again in group 7 after Austria’s surprising strike against Serbia.

Like at the EHF EURO 2010, Graz was the perfect place for Austria to win against the EHF EURO 2012 silver medallists.

Like Serbia, Austria now have four points in their account.

The match was like a roller coaster ride with clear advantages for Serbia until the middle of the second half, mainly because of their top striker Momir Ilic, who netted 12 times in 16 attempts.

But even his goals were not enough, as the usually rock-solid defence became the Serbian problem.

In a well-balanced Austrian team, Viktor Szilagyi and Robert Weber scored eight goals each.

After an equal start, Serbia were in the lead for most of the time by two or three goals before the break, before the host reduced the gap to one goal.

But the match had not been turned around yet.

Serbia forged ahead to 21:17 in minute 37, but in the remaining 23 minutes the Austrians allowed their opponents only seven more goals and started their catch-up chase with six straight goals from 18:22 to 24:22.

At 28:25 with five minutes to go the deal for Austria seemed to be sealed, but Ilic was still hungry for goals and brought back his team to 28:27.

But a triple strike of Szilagyi (2) and Weber decided the match in Austria's favour..


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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