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14.06.2014, 20:13
Poland beat Czech Republic to book EHF EURO tickets
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Saturday’s Women's EHF EURO 2014 qualification matches saw Germany and Spain both earn first place on their respective group tables, whilst Poland joined the list of qualified teams with a tough away victory against Czech Republic
 

Poland beat Czech Republic to book EHF EURO tickets

Saturday’s Women's EHF EURO 2014 qualification matches saw Germany and Spain both earn first place on their respective group tables, whilst Poland joined the list of qualified teams with a tough away victory against Czech Republic.

Group 3: Czech Republic vs Poland 22:25 (10:16)

All eyes were on Brno on Saturday as Czech Republic and Poland took to the court in their much-anticipated qualifier to determine who would earn the second Group 3 spot that secured qualification to the EHF EURO 2014.

Czech Republic were the favourites heading in to the game, given their victory over Poland in the first-leg match between the teams (19:22).

From the moment the first whistle blew, it was obvious both teams were ready to perform their best. It was a tense beginning – two two-minute suspensions (one to Czech Republic's Romana Chrenkova, the other to Poland's Monika Stachowska) were issued in the first five minutes of the match alone.

Such physicality so early in the match was a strong indication of what was to follow – an extremely close, well-played match between two teams that made it clear they have plans for where they will be in December.

The score was even for much of the beginning of the match, but it was Poland who ultimately took the lead, creating a three-goal advantage (5:8) by midway through the half.

Poland continued to build on the goal difference through to half-time, looking the dominant side with aggressive defence, well-structured attack and outstanding shooting – the team maintained 100 per cent shooting accuracy until almost the end of the first 30 minutes.

Czech Republic returned from the half-time break with fresh determination that saw the home side narrow the score line to three by the 45th minute (18:21). But it was Poland that once again showed their stamina toward the end of the half, slowly increasing the score line in their favour to hold a four-goal lead by the 55th minute (19:24).

Buoyed by a passionate crowd, Czech Republic made one last attempt to come back, momentarily trailing by only two (22:24) after two quick goals by Iveta Luzumova. The deficit was too much to make up however, and Poland's Karolina Kudlacz eighth goal ultimately sealed the win which came courtesy of the higher number of away goals scored in the direct encounter – and along with it, their spot to contend the EHF EURO 2014 in December.

Group 7: Germany vs. FYR Macedonia 31:16 (14:5)

Wednesday’s victory against FYR Macedonia meant Germany clinched their berth to the EHF EURO 2014 earlier in the week, but a victory on Saturday was still of importance to the home side as it would see them move up to first place in Group 7 ahead of the final tournament draw on Thursday, 19 June in Zagreb.

Saturday’s match was one-sided from the beginning, with Germany scoring the first goal and giving their opponents no chance to catch up.

By the end of the first half, Germany had kept FYR Macedonia to only five goals and had scored 14 themselves.

FYR Macedonia put up a strong fight in the second half, decreasing the goal deficit slightly, but ultimately, Germany proved Saturday was their day, finishing the match with a decisive victory of 31:16.

Danish-born German coach Heine Jensen said “We played much better, more focused and more concentrated in all departments. Now we are looking forward to the draw event on Thursday to know on which teams we must prepare for December."

As she did in the first-leg match on Wednesday against Germany, FYR Macedonia’s Zorica Despodovska dominated the scoreboard, scoring nine goals of her country’s 16. Susan Müller was Germany’s top scorer with seven goals.

"Our young team played well in Skopje, but we do not have the power and alternatives to have two of those matches within only three days. In two years we want to grab the chance to qualify for the EHF EURO," Macedonian coach, Risto Magdinchev, said.

Germany now move up to first place in Group 7 whilst Russia move down to second.

Group 4: Spain vs. Italy 27:19 (14:10)

Despite Italy’s determination to put the pressure on the other teams in their group, the young team entered Saturday’s match against Spain with no points on the board, making already-qualified Spain the strong favourites to win the match.

Saturday’s match proved to be a surprise, as Italy showed they still wanted to earn some points for the group table. The visitors had a strong start to the game led by left back, Anika Niederwieser, who scored six goals for Italy in the first half.

It was only in the last few minutes of the first half that Spain began to take the lead they had been predicted to from the beginning. Courtesy of a few quick goals in the five minutes before the break, Spain created a four-goal advantage (14:10) by half-time.

Spain returned from the break ready to earn their place at the top of the group. By midway through the second half, the score line had increased to nine (21:12) – and it continued that way until the end of the match.

Saturday’s win against Italy places Spain at the top of the Group 4 table, ensuring them a prime position ahead of the upcoming final tournament draw.


TEXT: Courtney Gahan / ts
 
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