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11.06.2014, 22:35
Sweden qualify for EHF EURO 2014
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REVIEW 2: Sweden booked their spot to contend the EHF EURO 2014, leaving just five positions available as the Round 5 qualification matches continued on Wednesday
 

Sweden qualify for EHF EURO 2014

Sweden booked their spot to contend the EHF EURO 2014, leaving just five positions available as the Round 5 qualification matches continued on Wednesday.

The Scandinavian squad became the fourth team to qualify on Wednesday for the final tournament, with Germany, Slovakia and Spain confirming their place earlier in the day.

Netherlands can potentially book their tickets already tomorrow, while the remaining places at the event in December 2014 will be decided in Qualification Round 6 on Saturday and Sunday (14/15 June).

Group 5: Slovenia vs. Sweden 27:34 (14:17)

When Slovenia and Sweden met for their first-leg play-off match, Sweden recorded a five-goal victory (30:25). If the Scandinavians could pull off a win again, they would clinch their berth for the final tournament, but if Slovenia won, the decision about the two team qualifying for the EHF EURO 2014, would go down to the wire.

Sweden, eventually, went for option and booked the ticket to the final tournament by beating Slovenia 34:27.

Wednesday’s game was very similar to the first-leg match between these two teams, with Sweden taking the lead early on and retaining it through to the end of the first 30 minutes.

Sweden’s dominance continued through the second half, ending in a comfortable victory for the Swedes with the bonus of a confirmed position at the EHF EURO 2014.

The game featured superb shooting performances from both teams, but it was Sweden’s attacking efficiency that proved to be the vital factor in their victory.

Centre back Isabelle Gullden demonstrated yet again what an asset she is to the Swedish team, scoring six goals in the first half alone. Gullden and left back Jenny Alm together showed the power in Sweden’s back court, finishing the match top scorers with nine and seven goals respectively.

The Group 5 matches continue on Thursday as Serbia face Switzerland, then again on Sunday with Serbia playing Slovenia and Sweden versus Switzerland.

Group 3: Poland vs. Montenegro 22:25 (11:10)

Montenegro had already booked their tickets to the EHF EURO 2014, so it seemed Poland might be in for a relatively easy win on Wednesday if the relaxed away side gave their less-experienced players a run.

As they stand equal with Czech Republic on the table, Wednesday’s game could not secure Poland their position for the final tournament – the team must wait until they face Czech Republic on Saturday – but the two points from a victory against Montenegro could certainly prove useful to their cause.

Montenegrin star, Milena Knezevic, was rested for this match, confirming speculation that Montenegro would use the opportunity to give their younger players more international experience.

The match demonstrated the depth coming through the ranks of the Montenegrin national team, with the more inexperienced players keeping Poland on their toes in an exciting, physical match in front of a packed stadium.

From the first whistle it was clear the crowd would be in for a show, as the teams scored one for one for the first 15 minutes (6:6).

Poland’s determination and the vocal home crowd helped the team take the lead briefly, before Montenegro closed the score line to finish the first half with a one-goal difference in favour of the Poles (11:10).

The second half saw Poland dominate from the beginning, showing just what the team is capable of. But the young Montenegrins were persistent, continuing to fight until they took the lead midway through the half (16:17).

Once Montenegro held the lead, they did not let up, finishing the match three goals ahead (22:25).

Poland now need to regroup and be ready to fight for the remaining Group 3 spot when they face Czech Republic on Saturday.

Group 3: Portugal vs. Czech Republic in 23:33 (9:14)

The Czech Republic were the clear favourites heading into Wednesday’s away match against Portugal, given their convincing win over their hosts in the first-leg match (35:20).

Despite the odds in favour of a Czech victory, coach Jan Basny knew Portugal were not to be underestimated. But Basny made it clear Czech Republic were travelling to Sao Pedro Do Sul to win and claim the two points a victory would bring, thereby placing them more firmly in second place ready for their deciding match against Poland on Saturday.

Basny was right not to underestimate their opponents, as Portugal took a surprise lead early on and kept it for much of the first half. By the 25th minute however, Czech Republic had claimed the lead (8:10), increasing the score line to a five-goal difference by the end of the first half (9:14).

The second half continued with Czech Republic asserting their dominance over the less experienced side, leading to a final score of 23:33 in favour of the visitors.

Czech Republic now takes second place on the Group 3 table, putting them at a slight advantage ahead of their match against Poland on Saturday – a match that will decide which of these two teams qualifies for the EHF EURO 2014.


TEXT: Courtney Gahan / ts
 
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