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30.10.2014, 22:03
France and Denmark start EHF EURO 2016 Qualification campaigns with comfortable wins
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ROUND PREVIEW 2016 - 2: Both EHF EURO 2014 finalists started their 2016 qualification campaigns on Thursday with decisive wins in front of appreciative home crowds.
 

France and Denmark start EHF EURO 2016 Qualification campaigns with comfortable wins

France and Denmark both proved why they consistently rank amongt the top teams at international tournaments on Thursday, finishing their first qualification matches on the road to the EHF EURO 2016 with clear victories.

France hosted Czech Republic, who were missing star player Filip Jicha due to injury, whilst Denmark welcomed Lithuania in Brondby.

France now join FYR Macedonia at the top of the Group 6 table with two points. Denmark sit atop the Group 2 table alone following a draw between Belarus and Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday. 

Group 2: Denmark vs. Lithuania 31:21 (16:8)

Despite a strong fight from the visitors, Denmark’s eventual victory in Thursday’s match against Lithuania was probable before the teams even stepped on the court.

Lithuania have not qualified for a major tournament since 1998; a fact that meant the match was decidedly in favour of the EHF EURO 2014 and World Championship 2013 finalists, particularly on home court.

Denmark showed they are serious about the EHF EURO 2016 from the start, with two goals from crowd favourite Anders Eggert in the first three minutes giving the hosts their initial lead.

Though Denmark were not at the top of their game in terms of converting attacks into goals, their superb shooting was on display in force, with Mikkel Hansen, Lasse Svan and Morten Olsen all achieving 100% accuracy from several goals each in the first half.

By half-time the Danes held an eight-goal lead and were working hard to slow the pace of a Lithuanian side eager to challenge their hosts.

Lithuania came back from the break with fresh determination, decreasing Denmark’s lead to five goals in the 41st minute. But Denmark did not let it stay that way for long and victory ultimately eluded the guests.

The top scorer for Denmark was Mikkel Hansen, finishing with seven goals. Valdas Drabavicius was the highest scorer for Lithuania with five goals.

Group 6: France vs. Czech Republic 41:25 (20:12)

France went into Thursday’s match against Czech Republic as firm favourites, and the final score proved once again that the current EHF EURO champions are a powerful force.

As expected, the France team used the opportunity the early stages of qualification present to gain international experience for up-and-coming players such as Luka Karabatic and Alix Nyokas.

Czech Republic noticeably missed the high-scoring heart of the team, Filip Jicha (sidelined with an ankle injury), but his counterpart, right back Petr Linhart, stepped up and finished the game top scorer for Czech (eight goals).

France’s victory was never really in question – the home side were up by three goals after the first fifteen minutes (9:6), increasing their lead to eight by half-time.

The second half told much the same story, with France comfortably maintaining their lead and experimenting with player combinations.

When France reached 30 goals in the 45th minute (30:18), it was clear the match was decided.

Nikola Karabatic and Guillaume Joli were the top scorers for the home side, with six goals each.

France and Czech Republic will both play their second qualification phase matches on Sunday, when France travel to Switzerland and Czech Republic host FYR Macedonia.


TEXT: Courtney Gahan / ts
 
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