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14.06.2015, 22:52
Last spots for EHF EURO 2016 decided
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REVIEW 3: Three teams endured a nail-biting end to the weekend with EHF EURO 2016 qualification in Group 2 and 4 coming down to the wire
 

Last spots for EHF EURO 2016 decided

Sunday evening was a big one in Group 4: Serbia won big at home against Israel, clinching their berth at the final tournament in Poland.

Iceland defeated Montenegro, moving up to first place on the Group table and leaving Montenegro to join Belarus to anxiously await results from Denmark.

In Group 2, Belarus defeated Lithuania, but their place in Poland would only be confirmed in Bosnia-Herzegovina lost to Denmark.

The Danes therefore had everyone on the edge of their seats when they took to the court for the last match of the day.

Their one-goal win over Bosnia-Herzegovina was decided inside the last minute of the match – but with that victory came Belarus and Montenegro’s tickets to Poland, with the former qualifying as the second team from Group 2 and the latter as the best third ranked team overall.

With the end of the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification also came the decision about the three lowest ranked teams: Turkey, Israel and Finland share that fate and they will meet the three group winners from the first phase of the EHF EURO 2018 Qualification, Belgium, Luxembourg and Romania, in the intermediate play-offs next April.

Group 2: Belarus vs. Lithuania 31:24 (15:10)

Belarus had everything to fight for in Minsk. As long as Denmark defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina, a win would qualify Belarus for Poland.

The hosts wasted no time waiting for Lithuania to decide their fate. Belarus took control from the start, scoring goal after unanswered goal to create an advantage of five by the 15-minute mark (7:2).

The situation was looking dire for Lithuania as Belarus continued to widen the score line, at one point holding an eight-goal lead (13:5, 25th minute).

But Lithuania picked up their game to decrease the gap by half-time (15:10). When the second half began however, it was clear Lithuania had not found a miracle answer to Belarus’ dominance.

Belarus continued to pull away, recording a comfortable 31:24 victory before settling in to wait for news from Denmark.

Centre back Barys Pukhouski was the top scorer for Belarus with eight goals, while Jonas Truchanovicius (100% shooting accuracy) and Benas Petreikis scored six goals for Lithuania.

A few hours after the final whistle Belarus received the news they were waiting for: Denmark defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina, thereby keeping Belarus in second position on the group table.

Group 2: Denmark vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina 26:25 (13:14)

Denmark were the favourites ahead of Sunday’s match – and as it turned out other teams depended on their victory to confirm their places in Poland, while Bosnia-Herzegovina needed a win to book their own spot.

So all eyes were on Brøndby as Bosnia-Herzegovina surprised their hosts with a strong start and a level score line through the first half (9:9, 20th minute).

Denmark were missing star Mikkel Hansen, out with a foot injury – a fact that undoubtedly worked in Bosnia-Herzegovina’s favour as the lead alternated hands during the first 30 minutes.

As the first half came to a close, Bosnia-Herzegovina had the upper hand and took a one-goal advantage into the break.

Denmark did not allow their guests to keep the lead for long however, scoring two goals in succession to create a narrow lead of their own with 15 minutes left (22:20).

But Bosnia-Herzegovina answered, and a tense countdown to the final whistle followed as the score stayed level.

With just over 30 seconds left on the clock, Rasmus Lauge Schmidt (six goals) scored the winning goal for Denmark, and Bosnia-Herzegovina’s EURO dream was over.

Left back Nikola Prce was outstanding for Bosnia-Herzegovina, scoring nine goals.

 

What a game !! Denmark wins against Bosnia-Herzegovina 26-25 #efheuro2016 #handball

Ein von Rikke Stokholm Qvist Rasmussen (@rikkesqr) gepostetes Video am

Group 4: Iceland vs. Montenegro 34:22 (19:11)

Playing at home proved a killer advantage for Iceland on Sunday. The first time these sides met in the qualification phase, Montenegro won by one goal (25:24), but in Reykjavik it was all about Iceland.

Led by Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson, who was top scorer for Iceland with ten goals, the hosts started strong and kept on from there.

With an eight-goal lead at half-time, Iceland looked set to bring the game home and qualify for Poland in front of the home crowd – which they did.

The second half was just as much Iceland’s as the first. The home side’s defence was excellent, keeping Montenegro from scoring for several minutes on more than one occasion, including one instance of no goal by the guests for seven minutes midway through the period.

In the end Iceland cruised in to a victory that was never really in question, taking first place on the Group 4 table in the process.

Vasko Sevaljevic and Vuko Borozan (six goals each) were the top scorers for Montenegro.

Despite Sunday’s loss, Montenegro qualify for the EHF EURO 2016 as the best third-ranked team out of all groups.

Group 4: Serbia vs. Israel 32:23 (19:12)

Serbia recorded a much stronger victory in the second-leg match against Israel than they did in the first back in November.

Last time around, Serbia defeated their hosts by four goals – but on Sunday the home crowd buoyed the Balkan side on to a decisive win, booking Serbia’s ticket to the final tournament in Poland in style.

Serbia took the lead from the first whistle and never looked back, leading by four after 15 minutes of play (10:6) and only increasing the score line further as the match progressed.

The hosts’ set play proved outstanding, with several players including right back Nemanja Zelenovic (six goals and Serbia’s top scorer), left back Momir Ilic, line player Rastko Stojkovic and right wing Darko Djukic all contributing several goals each.

Omer Davda and Daniel Friedman hit the back of the net five times to be Israel’s highest scorers.


TEXT: Courtney Gahan / ts
 
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