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08.10.2015, 00:11
Favourites dominate opening qualifying round
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ROUND REVIEW: Norway, Poland, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany all won as expected as qualifying for the women's EHF EURO 2016 tournament got under way.
 

Favourites dominate opening qualifying round

All of the tournament's favourites began their 2016 qualification campaigns with easy victories that were never in doubt.

The closest match on the night was Montenegro, the 2012 champions, against FYR Macedonia, which Montenegro controlled for the most part, winning 21:14 in a relatively low scoring affair compared to other results..

Group 1:

Norway vs. Belarus 35:24 (19:13)


Thanks to their accurate counter attacks the Norway extended their lead from an early 6:2 to 19:13 at the break, whilst the tall Belarusian shooters could not manage to get through the highly mobile Norwegian defence.

On Katrine Lunde's return to the squad after her pregnancy, her teammates kept full control of the match, punishing Belarusian mistakes with fast break goals.

Belarus managed to reduce the deficit to 23:19 at one point, but the result was never in danger.

After a weak period, Norway kept their heads high – when Heidi Löke scored to give Norway a nine-goal advantage at 29:20, the victory was secured.

Group 2:

Czech Republic vs. Italy 33:15 (14:5)


The Italians faced a huge challenge in the much more experienced Czechs, who were ahead by 8:2 after only 16 minutes.

At the end of the first half the Czech Republic had already opened up an insurmountable lead at 14:5.



Italy were too weak in attack to pressure the hosts, who only had an uninspired period right after the break, but then took their first double figured advance at 23:13 in the 46th minute.

From then on the Czech-Republic coasted, with their coach, Jan Basny, making a number of substitutions to save his player's strength for their next match against Ukraine.

At the final whistle nearly every Czech player had scored in an impressive and diverse attacking display.

Group 3:

Netherlands vs. Bulgaria 45:24 (24:16)


Bulgaria were taught a harsh lesson in their first EHF EURO qualification match since the introduction of the group phase.

After 19 minutes the score was level at 13:13, then the Dutch side put the hammer down, scoring an incredible 11:3 series that took them into the break.

The Netherland's top scorer Lois Abbingh (7 goals) and her teammates had done enough at that point to secure victory but after the break they increased their speed, putting all of their focus on attack.

The hosts raced out to a 28:18 in the 40th minutes and just six minutes later the score was 36:21.

The only consolation for the Bulgarians was Elizabeth Omoregie's impressive attacking display, top scoring for the away side with eight goals.

Spain vs. Austria 25:15 (13:6)

The base for Spain's emphatic win was brilliant defensive play, which conceded only six goals in the opening half.

When Spain forged ahead from 3:2 to 9:2, they had shown their superiority and Austria struggled to gain any foothold in the match.

In truth, Austria lacked ideas creatively and even before the break, Spanish coach, Jorge Duenas, had already started rotating his playing roster.

Group 4:

Croatia vs. Slovenia 27:19 (14:11)


Andrea Penezic paved the way for a successful Croatian start by scoring impressive ten goals for her side.

After missing the 2015 World Championships, the Croats were dominant, defending resolutely from beginning to end.

Despite scoring seven goals, Tamar Mavsar, could not spearhead a Slovenia comeback against the 2014 EHF EURO joint host.

In the initial stages Croatia could not build on their excellent 6:2 start, as Slovenia managed to reduce the gap to two goals at 11:9.

After the break Penezic led her team on to a much more comfortable period of the match that Slovenia had no answers for.

Montenegro vs. FYR Macedonia 21:14 (12:8)

The 2012 EHF EURO champions did just enough to secure an opening win against their neighbours in a match, marked by solid defence on both sides.

After only 18 minutes, when the result was 7:2 in Montenegro's favour, their coach, Dragan Adzic, reduced their tempo, switching his players and focusing on defending.

The Macedonians kept on fighting until the end, but never were able to truly trouble the hosts.

After leading by four goals at the break, Montenegro forged ahead to 16:8 in the 39th minute and effectively ended the encounter.

Group 5:

Poland vs. Finland 29:12 (13:8)


Yet again the favourites were victorious – Finland kept pace with Poland for much of the first half, but the Scandinavians lacked power and concentration in the second, leaving the hosts to storm to a 17-goal victory.

Finland were close at 13:9 but were then totally overrun by the Polish express. It took the hosts only 13 minutes to extend the gap to 18:10 and then totally break the Finnish side by scoring a 10:0 series to make the score 28:11.

Group 7:

Germany vs. Switzerland 29:18 (13:10)


After a quite shaky start in attack, the newly built German team celebrated a dominant opening victory.

Switzerland who were without their star player, Karin Weigelt, due to injury, did not have the powers to stand with their hosts in the second half.

Germany missed too many chances in the first 25 minutes, but took full control of the match after leading by a single goal at 10:9.

Thanks to a clear improvement in attack after the break, they easily forged ahead to a 21:12 lead by the 45th minute, leaving their neighbours trailing by a huge margin.

Germany's coach, Jakob Vestergaard, said: “We made too many mistakes in the opening stages, but finally this win gives us confidence for the much tougher away match in Iceland on Sunday.”


TEXT: Bjorn Pazen / gs
 
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