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07.04.2013, 18:08
Spain, France, and Iceland book tickets to Denmark
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Review of the EHF EURO 2014 qualification 'Super Sunday': Belarus' Rutenka scores 14 goals, Germany cheat the gallows, and Austria take a sensational point in Serbia
 

Spain, France, Iceland book tickets to Denmark

The first three of the 15 open spots for the 2014 Men’s EHF EURO has been confirmed.

By beating FYR Macedonia on 7 April world champions, Spain, won their fourth consecutive qualifier and can start looking for flight tickets and accommodation locations in Denmark.

A bit later in the afternoon, France benefited from a Lithuanian win against Turkey and became the second team to qualify for the final tournament.

Then, with their second one-goal-gap-victory against Slovenia in just a few days, Iceland also qualified for the EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark.

Portugal also made a huge step towards the final tournament, while Slovakia recorded their first win in this qualification phase.

Austria drew 30:30 with Serbia, gaining a more than crucial point in the quest for the final tournament.

The other winners of the eleven matches on the 'Super Sunday' of the EHF EURO 2014 qualification are Germany, Russia, Belarus and Netherlands.

Group 1: Spain vs. Fyr Macedonia 29:17 (12:8)

The “early birds” from Spain overran the Macedonians at lunch time.

Following the 24:17 in the first leg, the world champions punished FYR Macedonia even harder and secured – as the first team, taking aside the directly qualified hosts from Denmark – the qualification for the EHF EURO 2014.

Compared to the first leg, the Macedonians were quite close at the break, but then only scored nine goals in the second half.

Courtesy of six consecutive goals that increased the gap from 16:12 to 22:12, the Spaniards could decide the match in favour several minutes before the final whistle.

The biggest gap was 12 goals at 27:15, but the Macedonian resistance had been broken much earlier.

Left wing Valero Rivera jun, son of the head coach, with seven goals and powerful back court ace, Jorge Maqueda, (6 goals from seven attempts) were the Spanish top scorers, while Goce Ojlevski scored four for FYR Macedonia.

Group 1: Portugal vs. Switzerland 27:25 (14:14)

Switzerland tried everything, but in the end the team of coach Goran Perkovac had to cope with the fact that it is out of the race for the EHF EURO 2014 qualification.

Portugal, on the other hand, are in a perfect position with five points in their account, two points ahead of FYR Macedonia.

The first half was completely equal, as no team managed to forge ahead by more than one goal.

But like during the 26-all in the first leg, Switzerland improved, and powered to 21:17 in the 40th minute. But four straight Portuguese goals later on first levelled the match and then saw them leading 25:24.

Finally a double penalty strike by Portuguese top scorer Silva Osorio Silva (overall five goals) to make it 27:25 decided the match.

Group 2: Germany vs. Czech Republic 28:23 (15:12)

Germany took revenge and cheated the gallows: Because of this result, the 2007 world champions have not only won the direct encounter following a 22:24 defeat in the first leg, but the group is full of tension now – after the sensational Israel victory against Montenegro on Saturday.

Germans and Czechs are level on four points, ranking two points behind the Montenegrins, but have the fate still in their hands to finish first.

Both face Israel and Montenegro in their last matches. And both can get ahead of Montenegro with clear victories.

The Czechs had the better start, marching ahead 5:1, but only four minutes later the result was levelled again at 6:6.

Thanks to a clearly improved defence compared to the first match and a higher efficiency in attack, the Germans were away by three goals at the break.

In the second half they outdistanced the Czechs intermediately by seven goals, but their opponent never gave up, so the Germans had to work hard until the last minute, before the victory they needed – with a gap of more than two goals – was achieved.

Best scorers for Germany were Steffen Weinhold and Sven-Sören Chistopherssen with six goals each, overall top scorer was Czech Republic's Filip Jicha with eight goals.

Group 3: Lithuania vs. Turkey 28:23 (17:13)

One match, two winners: Thanks to the Lithuanian victory Olympic champions, France, have clinched their berth for the EHF EURO 2014 already.

Lithuania and Turkey are level on two points each, France have the optimum of eight points in their account.

In contrast to the first leg, when the Turkish side won 27:26, they could not start their powerful back court actions in the first half.

Lithuania were well adapted after the defeat and dominated the match most of the time.

After an equal start the hosts broke the Turkish resistance with four straight goals to power away from 10:10 to 14:10 and afterwards kept this distance virtually until the end.

But their opponent improved in the middle of the second half and turned the match around after four consecutive goals to suddenly lead 22:21.

But Lithuania turned the roller coaster around again with six straight goals to decide the match at 27:22 despite ten goals of Turkish top star Ramazan Döne.

Best Lithuanian scorers were Cepulis and Grosas with four goals each.

Group 4: Slovakia vs. Latvia 27:25 (12:14)

The Slovaks took revenge, but as both opponents are on just two points after the fourth qualification round, the chance to get ahead of the leading duo, Croatia and Hungary (both on six 2 points), is more than small.

After the 24:28 in the first leg, the team of Slovak coach Peter David was trailing again for most of the time.

Latvia forged ahead to 14:8 six minutes before the end of the first half, but then the hosts scored six straight times to equalise at 14:14.

Who thought the match would turn was wrong as again Latvia improved, getting ahead to 21:15.

But Slovakia fought hard, reduced to 20:21 and equalized at 24:24.

The Latvian resistance was broken and a double strike of Stranovsky and Antl secured the first Slovak victory.

Top scorers were Martin Stranovsky and Latvian Aivis Jurdsz with eight goals each.

Group 5: Netherlands vs. Ukraine 27:23 (13:10)

Seven goals of Iso Slujter were the key for the first Dutch victory in this competition.

In contrast to the 24:28 defeat on Tuesday, Netherlands had clearly improved and were never threatened by the Ukrainians.

The visiting team's only lead came with the very first goal of the match, after that the Netherlands most of the time were away by three or four goals.

At the latest when the score stood at 25:20, the deal was sealed. Both teams now have two points in their account.

Group 5: Poland vs. Sweden 22:18 (12:10)

Like in group 4 (Hungary and Croatia), Sweden and Poland won one direct top duel each.

After Sweden (winner of the direct encounter, if both teams finish equal in the end) had dominated on ground on Wednesday by 28:21, now Poland took their third victory in this group.

Both teams are clearly on their way towards Denmark courtesy of a four-point gap betwenn them and trailing Netherlands and Ukraine.

The Polish team of German-born coach Michael Biegler had learnt their lesson well, focusing on the defence in the starting period.

Sweden were nearly unable to score, while the hosts easily forged ahead to 5:2 and 8:5, before Sweden woke up and equalised at 10:10 for the first time.

But four straight Polish goals brought back the former gap – and from that point onwards the hosts were clearly dominant, intermediately being ahead by six goals and never less than four despite missing three penalty shots.

Adam Wisniewski was the best Polish scorer with seven goals, while Niklas Ekberg netted four times for Sweden.

Group 6: Belarus vs. Romania 31:25 (17:14)

Who is better than Siarhei Rutenka? Only Siarhei Rutenka!

After scoring eleven times in the first leg on Wednesday (34:31) in Romania, he even topped this result in the second leg on home soil.

The five times EHF Champions league winner added incredible 14 goals to his tally, having now scored 45 times in four matches.

The rest of the match was a side aspect to the Rutenka gala.

Belarus have a brilliant base for a ticket to Denmark with now five points, while the Romanians are out of the race as they remain on zero points.

Belarus were in lead constantly and never gave the full control of the game from their hands.

Group 6: Iceland vs. Slovenia 35:34 (15:18)

120 minutes on a completely equal level were played between these two teams – and like in the first leg in Slovenia (29:28), Iceland were the lucky winners – and have now, after their fourth consecutive victory, already qualified for the EHF EURO 2014.

On home ground it became Alexander Petterson who scored the decisive goal 18 seconds before the end.

A late Slovenian time-out did not result in a successful shot, so they were defeated for the second time in a very close manner.

Slovenia have three points in their account and urgently need to win their encounters against Belarus (5 points) and Romania to be part of the final tournament.

The match was on the edge for the entire 60 minutes again, and like on Wednesday, Slovenia gave a clear lead away.

The team of Boris Denic scored four straight goals make it 15:11 and were still ahead by three goals at the break.

But when Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson – Iceland's brilliant top scorer with 13 goals – stroke for 22:22 everything was open again, even though it took until the 50th minute when again Sigurdsson scored for the first Icelandic lead at 29:28.

Slovenia managed to equalise any later Icelandic lead – except the final one.

Best Slovenian scorers were Nenad Bilbija and Gasper Marguc, who scored nine times each, and so did Iceland's Aron Palmarsson.

Group 7: Russia vs. Bosnia Herzegovina 26:24 (10:11)

The Russian bears do not jump higher as they have: After the 32:23 in the first leg in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the team of Oleg Kuleshov were close to fail on home ground, but finally took two points.

While Bosnia and Herzegovina remain on zero, Russia now have six points in their account after their third straight victory.

However, the Bosnians were a tough opponent until the final stages.

Thanks to their strong defence the team managed to stop the tall Russian shooters.

Even an intermediate three goal advantage was not enough for the hosts to decide the encounter early – at 25:23, 90 seconds before the end, Bosnia still had the chances to take a point.

But finally the fourth goal of Sergij Gorbok decided the match for the lucky Russians.

Group 7: Serbia vs. Austria 30:30 (16:14)

Austria caused Sunday's major sensation: Only four days after the brilliant 31:28 against the EHF EURO 2012 silver medallists, Serbia, the team of Patrekur Johanesson took home a draw from the lion's den in Zrenjanin and has therefore won the - maybe decisive - direct encounter.

Both teams are equal by currently five points, one point behind the Russians, and both face the same opponents (Russia and Bosnia) in their final matches.

"We have again proved that we have a brilliant team and that we even can gain points away at top nations," Austrian player Raul Santos said.

Like Szilagyi and Weber he scored five goals, while on the Serbian side wing player Ivan Nikcevic was on top with eight goals ahead of Marko Vujin (7).

Austria started by a 5:1 opening series, but Serbia equalised quite quickly and turned the match to a 16:14 half-time lead.

And despite some one-man-disadvantages the Austrian fought like lions, equalising and even forging ahead to 22:19 in the middle of the second half.

And from the next Serbian equaliser onwards, the match is on the edge with constantly changing leads.

Momir Ilic missed the great change to decide the match, when he missed a penalty shot against Austrian goalkeeper Nikola Marinovic at 29:28, and when Janko Bozovic stroke to make 29:30 40 seconds before the end, the Austrians were highly close to a historic away victory.

But after a time-out of coach Veselin Vukovic, Serbian Bojan Beljanski equalised 20 seconds later for the final result.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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