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09.10.2015, 00:07
Favourites cruise past first hurdles
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ROUND REVIEW: Easy going start for the top teams in their openers of the Women’s EHF EURO qualification
 

Favourites cruise past first hurdles

'No high hurdles to be crossed' – this was the motto of the favoured teams in the seven Women’s EHF EURO 2016 qualification matches on Thursday. Russia took the clearest win by a 20-goal difference against Portugal.

Group 1:
Romania vs. Lithuania 29:20 (16:10)

The last levelled result was 5:5; afterwards, the Romanians had an easy-going evening at Ramnicu Valcea. As was expected, Lithuania were like a play toy for the 2010 EHF EURO bronze medallist. 2015 Champions league winner, Cristina Neagu, was the top scorer of the victors with eight goals, while Lithuania were unable to profit from the six goals of Laima Bernataviciute.

The host had prematurely decided the unequal encounter at the break, when the goal difference was six. This distance remained until the middle of the second half, when Romanian coach, Tomas Ryde, had already began his rotation. The only time his team was ahead by ten goals was at 27:17, but the win was secured much earlier.

Group 2:
Serbia vs. Ukraine 34:24 (14:12)

The fully restructured Serbian team took a highly important opening win against the Ukrainians, who lacked power in the second half. Even nine goals from Olha Nikolayenko were not enough for the away team to keep up with the hosts in the second half. On the other hand, Sanja Radosavljevic netted nine times too.

Without their top stars Lekic, Damnjanovic, Tomasevic or Cvijic, the Serbs had controlled the duel after the 7:7. But until the break, the team of head coach, Sasa Boskovic, could not outscore their opponents.

Until the score of 18:14 for Serbia, the match was quite close, but then the 2013 World Championship silver medallists managed to improve their defence and stop the Ukrainian attack.

Within five minutes, they managed to forged ahead to 21:14 – and by the 45th minute, the deal was sealed and the Ukrainian resistance was broken. The largest gap were eleven goals at 31:20. In the final stages, the Serbs were even able to save their energy and power for their next EURO qualifier in Italy on Sunday.

Group 5:
Hungary vs. Slovakia 32:19 (15:8)

The match of two 2014 EHF EURO participants was a more one-sided encounter than expected. Even without their top star, Anita Görbicz, who returned to the club-side at Györ a fews weeks ago after her pregnancy, the Hungarians left their neighbours without any chance.

All field players who were a part of the attack scored, so it was a team success and not due to a single player. Szabina Maier was the Hungarian top scorer with five goals, while Simona Szarkova scored the same number of goals for the chanceless Slovaks, who had to replace their top player, Lydia Jakubisova, as well becaue of a torn cruciate ligament.

Hungary started the match in highly-paced express mode, pulling ahead 7:2 after only ten minutes. The Slovaks lacked efficiency in their attacking game, while the Hungarian defence managed to profit from turn-overs.

Even as the away team improved and reduced the gap intermediately to 7:9, the Hungarian win was never endangered. At half-time, the goal difference had risen again to seven goals and at 24:14, the gap was in double-figures for the first time.

As Hungary are huge favourites going into Finland as well, Slovakia have another high hurdle ahead against Poland.

Group 6:
Russia vs. Portugal 39:19 (20:10)

After the Netherlands beat Bulgaria with a score of 45:24, the Russian 'storm' over Portugal was the second clearest win of Round 1 in the 2016 EHF EURO qualification. Boosted by their fans in Rostov, the Russians never displayed any doubt in achieving their victory.

As most of their players had a home match, contracted by the Russian champions, it was huge honour to display a big result. Russia built the base for the clear win through 15 strong minutes in the first half, when forging ahead from 9:6 to 20:10. In terms of power, speed and efficiency, the Portuguese team was far below their opponent.

Through powerful, fast and clever defending, it only took the hosts 10 minutes into the second half to increase the gap to 15 goals with a score 28:13. In the end, the Russian scoring efficiency was a brilliant number of 71%, with Ekaterina Davydenko becoming the top scorer, netting in seven goals from seven attempts.

With a performance like this from Thursday, Turkey should not be a tough nut to crack for the Russians on Sunday.
 
Denmark vs. Turkey 28:19 (16:10)

Nine goals from nine attempts of Yasemin Sahin equals a brilliant scoring rate, but unfortunately could not provide Turkey with a better result against the 2015 World Championship hosts. After a score of 9:7 in the first 15 minutes, Denmark pushed forward and stayed in full control for the remaining 45 minutes, never giving the opponents any chance to win.

The Danes were a well-balanced team with no weaknesses - neither in defence, nor in attacking - including Nörgaard and Jörgensen each netting in six times.

Scoring in a 7:3 series until the half was the key for an early decision in favour of the hosts, who could then start an early rotation to integrate younger players. Right before Denmark took their first double-figured advance at 24:15, Turkish player, Betül Yilmaz, received a red card – but at that point the party had already been decided.

Group 7:
France vs. Iceland 27:17 (11:8)

A strong defence was the key for the French win in their opener against the 2010 and 2012 EHF EURO participants, Iceland. Conceeding only 17 goals in 60 attempts proves the solid-rock work of the French defenders, including the goalkeepers, Amandine Leynaud and Laura Glaser.

And by improving in the attack after the break, the final result was a clear one. In the end, nearly all French court players were in the scorer list, while Island now have to focus on their crucial match against Germany on Sunday.

The first 20 minutes (until the score of 6:5 in favour of the hosts) were quite equal, then France increased their efficiency in attack, but still it took until the 38th minute to be ahead by six goals for the first time (17:11).

From that moment on, the victors were confirmed. The biggest gap were eleven goals right before the end at 27:16. France are well prepared for their away match at Switzerland.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / tm
 
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