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02.11.2014, 20:13
Russia start qualifiers with a win; Germany beat Austria
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ROUND REVIEW 2016 - 2: Russia and Ukraine have taken to the court for their first matches of the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification, while Montenegro and Iceland, Austria and Germany played tense second round matches
 

Russia start qualifiers with a win; Germany beat Austria

Russia have joined the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification with a win against determined Portugal, while Ukraine debuted in the 2016 campaign with a substantial loss against a relaxed Hungarian side.

Germany and Austria faced each other in a tense match in Vienna, which saw the guests pull off their second win of the qualification.

Montenegro and Iceland also played an anxious sixty minutes in which Montenegro led a tight contest that ended in a nail-biting finish and two points for the hosts.

Group 4: Montenegro vs. Iceland 25:24 (14:12)

In a match that could have belonged to either side, it was Iceland that wasted no time in taking the lead. The visitors scored four goals in the first five minutes of play (1:4) before Montenegro woke up and caught their guests, equalling the score in the eighth minute (4:4).

From there the match was even until the last few minutes of the half, when goals from Montenegro’s Vuko Borozan and Bogdan Petricevic and a miss by Iceland’s Snorri Gudjonsson allowed the hosts to edge ahead by two (14:12).

Between such teams even a two-goal lead can be dangerous, and Montenegro proved this when they returned from the half and quickly increased their lead to five (18:13) in the first ten minutes.

Iceland fought back but the hosts retained their lead, still three goals up with seven minutes of play remaining.

The disciplined Icelandic side kept pushing, coming within just one goal of Montenegro thanks to a series of quick goals. But two last-minute chances to equalise resulted in missed shots, and Montenegro ultimately took the nail-biting victory.

Group 5: Portugal vs. Russia 29:34 (12:18)

When Sunday’s match in Vila Nova de Gaia threw off, it looked as though Portugal were going to succeed in overthrowing their historically more successful Russian counterparts.

The hosts wasted no time in making the most of their home court advantage, forging ahead to reach double figures on the scoreboard long before their opponents.

But it did not last for long – Russia responded quickly, changing the momentum of the game in their favour and quickly catching then overtaking their hosts.

In the second fifteen minutes of the match, Russia turned up the heat, turning the earlier deficit into a six-goal lead they took into half-time.

The second half started with a bang; ten goals in ten minutes had been scored (17:23) and it was clear a tough fight for the two points was ahead.

Russia had a six-goal advantage that put them in good stead to record a victory, but Portugal were not giving in and continued to push their guests.

With ten minutes remaining the hosts had not managed to decrease the lead held by Russia (22:29), and the visitors appeared to be on the verge of a win in their opening qualifier.

Ultimately Russia’s hard work in the first half paid off and their substantial early lead won them their first qualification match.

Group 5: Ukraine vs. Hungary 20:33 (9:15)

Talant Dujshebaev’s second match at the helm of the Hungary men’s team went a little more smoothly than the first, in which the team recorded an uncomfortably close victory against a surprising Portuguese side.

Hungary were the dominant team from early on in Sunday’s match in Kiev, pulling ahead to lead by four midway through the first half.

Despite Hungary’s visibly more organised play, Ukraine were determined to put on a show in their opening match.

The hosts managed to pull their guests back to a two-goal lead (7:9) with ten minutes remaining, but a penalty save by Roland Mikler turned the game around in Hungary’s favour and the visitors soon created a four-goal lead with five minutes in the half remaining.

Hungary went into half-time with a six-goal lead (9:15), looking as though a comfortable win was in the future.

Midway through the second period Hungary had increased their lead to 16:25, and were showing no signs of slowing. With eight minutes remaining Hungary had more than doubled their host’s score (31:15). The final whistle blew with the scoreboard still clearly in favour of the visitors.

Hungary now top the group table ahead of Russia, though the results are incomplete given Russia and Ukraine’s late start in the qualification phase (these two teams have played only one game so far, whereas Hungary and Portugal played their second match on Sunday).

Group 7: Austria vs. Germany 24:28 (11:12)

Sunday’s match between Austria and Germany was expected to be a close one. With Spain clear favourites in Group 7 and Finland looking likely to place fourth, at this early stage of qualification it appears it may be a fight between Austria and Germany for second place.

Germany went into Sunday’s match already on two points courtesy of their win against Finland on Wednesday, and after the game against Austria the team are now at the top of the table with Spain.

The match started evenly, with the score going one for one for the first ten minutes before Germany began to pull away. The guests created a two-goal lead that survived for much of the first half, but went into the half-time break only one point ahead.

Both goalkeepers – Nikola Marinovic (Austria) and Carsten Lichtlein (Germany) – stood out as the best players on their teams in the first half, while the on-court players were strong in defence, but lacked efficiency in attack.

Midway through the second half, Germany regained their two-goal lead and from there gradually increased it to create a four-goal score line with ten minutes remaining.

The hosts had the help of a 6,000 fans in Vienna as they tried hard to reduce the gap. But the absence of playmaker Victor Szilagyi due to injury proved costly once again, as the home side lacked ideas in attack.

Ultimately it was the superb goalkeeping of Lichtlein (19 saves total) that kept Austria at bay.

Along with Lichtlein, German captain Uwe Gensheimer was a stand-out player for the guests, scoring ten goals in total.

Photos: Pedro Alves / FAP / PhotoReport.in


TEXT: Courtney Gahan / Björn Pazen / ts
 
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