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14.06.2015, 22:24
Finland, Bulgaria join next phase of Women's EHF EURO 2016 Qualification
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REVIEW: The hosts have made best use of their home advantage, with Finland and Bulgaria winning their respective Women's EHF EURO 2016 Qualification tournaments on Sunday to make it to the next stage
 

Finland, Bulgaria join next phase of Women's EHF EURO 2016 Qualification

Finland and Bulgaria have become the two teams to win this weekend's Women's EHF EURO 2016 Qualification tournaments and qualify for the qualification's second phase.

Finland beat Israel 26:23 early on Sunday in Group B to get there, and Bulgaria followed suit a bit from Group A as they eased past Azerbaijan 32:38.

Both matches were true 'do-or-die' encounters as only the winning team was sure of finishing first in the group, the rank that meant a place in the next phase.

With the support of their fans at the Sisu Arena in Karjaa, Finland took control of the game against Israel early on.

Led by Anna Lindholm, who would eventually become the team's top scorer with nine goals, they were ahead 9:7 after fifteen minutes and had added another goal to the gap at the break when the score stood at 18:15.

The closest Israel got in the second half was at 20:19 in the 42nd minute, but Finland's coaches did not even feel the need to take a timeout to change things, and their team responded by scoring two unanswered goals to bring back the three-goal lead.

The same happened again at 22:21 in the 50th minute, with Finland responding by not only two but four consecutive goals – and at 26:21 with five minutes left to play the game was decided.

Finland will join Hungary, Poland and Slovakia in Group 5 of the next stage of the Women's EHF EURO 2016 Qualification which will start in October this year.

Bulgaria overcome Azerbaijan in hard-fought game

The situation ahead of Group A's final match between Azerbaijan and Bulgaria was the same as in Group B. After both teams had beaten Faroe Islands, this game would decide the battle for first rank.

The first was an even affair with goals scored one by one at both ends of the court. 75 seconds before the break Bulgaria's Sonya Bogdanova scored and her team went into the changing rooms with a 13:12 lead.

The game then continued as it ended – but only for the first ten minutes.

At 19:19 Bulgaria scored three unanswered goals and once they led by three, they would not allow to let this advantage slip from their hands again.

With three minutes to go Bulgaria were even five goals ahead (31:26) and that was the very latest the match was decided in their favour.

Bulgaria will be seeded alongside Spain, Netherlands and Austria in Group 3 of the second qualification phase.


TEXT: EHF / ts
 
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