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02.04.2014, 21:37
Favourites record victories on the path to the Men’s EHF EURO 2016
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REVIEW: Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Switzerland look optimistically forward to the second leg of the Men’s EHF EURO 2016 Qualification play-off matches following victories against Finland, Greece, and Estonia respectively on Wednesday
 

Favourites record victories on the path to the Men’s EHF EURO 2016

The first round of intermediate play-offs for the EHF EURO 2016 were held on Wednesday. These play-off matches will determine the three teams that will progress to the second qualification phase for the Men’s championship to be held in Poland in 2016.

Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Switzerland all recorded victories and now look forward to the second leg of matches, to be played on Friday and Saturday, in the hope of repeat performances that will see them join the 25 teams already known for the second round of qualifications.

Romania vs. Finland 32:30 (16:14)

Romania entered this phase of qualification with the goal of taking a step toward qualifying for their first EHF EURO event since 1996.

Despite the absence of several key players, coach Eliodor Voica was confident his team could pull off a victory against their Nordic opponents – and he was right.

From the first whistle, it was clear nerves between both teams were high. Finland began with aggressive defence that quickly roused Romania into a tense, physical match, but Romania demonstrated experience where it counted and maintained more controlled play throughout the game.

Goals were scored one-for-one for the majority of the first half. When Romania went into half-time with a marginal lead of 16:14, it was clear the second half of the match was going to be just as tense as the first.

It did not take Finland long to restore the gap they had let go in the first half; the visitors caught up within minutes and fought hard to reign their opponents in.

The level score line persisted through to the 58th minute when Romania took the lead (31:30). A last-minute goal by Andrei Mihalcea secured the win at 32:30 for the hosts.

The second-leg match between Romania and Finland will take place in Karjaa, Finland on Saturday, 5 April.

Greece vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina 23:28 (10:13)

Bosnia and Herzegovina defeated Greece on Wednesday as part of their qualification for the Men’s EHF EURO 2016.

A slow – and ultimately costly – start to the match by Greece gave Bosnia and Herzegovina an early lead, with the visitors up 3:0 five minutes in.

The psychological and literal gap created in those first crucial minutes proved too much for Greece to compete with. When Bosnia and Herzegovina retained their three-goal lead (13:10) into half-time, it was an ominous sign for the hosts.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s stubborn three-goal lead lasted until the end of the first ten minutes of the second half, when Greece managed to come within just one goal of the visitors.

The relief for Greece was short-lived, as Bosnia and Herzegovina used the push and dramatically improved their shooting accuracy, resulting in a five-point lead (20:15) by the 45th minute.

Though Greece prevented Bosnia and Herzegovina from increasing their lead further, the visitors ultimately recorded another victory with a score of 28:23.

The win for Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday adds another to the impressive streak started in their World Championships 2015 qualification campaign; the team has won six of their seven most recent internationals at competitive level.

Bosnia and Herzegovina now look forward to welcoming Greece in Cazin, where they anticipate a significant home crowd advantage, for the second leg of matches on Saturday, 5 April

Estonia vs. Switzerland 26:34 (13:18)

Swiss Coach Rolf Braack, had his players well prepared for Wednesday’s test against Estonia. The preparation proved to be an advantage for the visitors, with the Swiss pulling off a comfortable victory against the home side.

Switzerland were ready for the skill of key Estonian players such as Mait Patrail and Dener Jaanimaa, but the home side could not counter the strong defence and determination of their opponents.

Though Estonia recorded the first goal of the match, it was quickly answered by Switzerland, who scored three goals in quick succession and never looked back.

Leading by just one for the first ten minutes, the Swiss worked solidly to increase their lead, resulting in a score of 18:13 in favour of the visitors by half-time.

Switzerland wasted no time increasing their lead in the second half of what ended as a somewhat one-sided match.

The final score of 34:26 will no doubt instil further confidence in the Swiss to repeat their performance on a home court later in the week.

The two teams will face off in St Gallen on Friday to determine who will continue with their EHF EURO 2016 qualification campaign.


TEXT: Courtney Gahan / ts
 
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