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10.03.2016, 23:05
Croatia's Penezic strikes 11 to decide top clash
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ROUND REVIEW: Croatia keep their clean record after beating Montenegro while Switzerland shock Iceland in Women's EHF EURO 2016 Qualification
 

Croatia's Penezic strikes 11 to decide top clash

After today’s first two matches of Round 3 in the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 Qualification ended with clear results, the three remaining duels all were highly close, decided only in the final stages and all ended by a one-goal margin.

Croatia remain on top of their group with a clear record thanks to 12 goals of Andrea Penezic, which paved the way for victory against Montenegro.

Both Switzerland (against Iceland) and Portugal (against Turkey) took their first points in this competition.

GROUP 4
Croatia vs Montenegro 23:22 (14:13)

It was the private shooting duel of two top stars of European women’s handball which imprinted this clash.

Finally the 11 goals of Andrea Penezic decided the thriller in Split in favour of the Croats, who top the table with the maximum six points now, while 10-time scorer Milena Raicevic and her side lost their first EHF EURO 2016 Qualification match.

Montenegro had the better start thanks to their strong defence and their counter-attack goals by the wings Radicevic and Majda Mehmedovic, leading 10:6 after 18 minutes.

But already at that moment, Penezic was on fire. When the tall left back netted in her fifth individual goal for 10:7 it was the start of the Croatian catch-up chase.

At 11:10 the hosts were in the lead for the first time - and right at the halftime buzzer “Penka” stroke for 14:13 and her ninth goal in 30 minutes. The Vardar top star had turned the match around on her own, making the fans in Split jump for joy.

But Montenegro still stood strong, keeping the match equal until the end, mainly because of their top striker Raicevic. When her team missed three straight shots, the Croats grabbed their chance to forge ahead to 20:18 with only 13 minutes left.

In the very last minute Camilla Micijevic finally decided the thrilling and entertaining clash of top teams as she scored 23:21.

Croatia extended their successful series against their local rivals to seven wins in the last eight duels.

GROUP 6
Portugal vs Turkey 24:23 (11:12)

Nearly five years after their last win in a EHF EURO Qualification game (31:23 against Greece), Portugal had a lucky punch against Turkey.

In a match with a huge number of technical mistakes and missed chances the host took their first points against brave fighting Turks.

Even seven goals of Ceren Demircelen were not enough, though her team had been ahead most of the match.

The hosts had only been in lead twice before the break at 10:9 and 11:10 - but then Turkey stroke back by four straight goals to have the first three-goal advance (14:11) on their side.

The rollercoaster turned its direction again as Portugal levelled the result at 15:15 and took the lead again (20:19) with only 11 minutes to play.

Even a Turkish time-out did not change the rundown as both sides missed lots of chances in the final stages.

Finally Claudia Correia put her side two goals up, but 29 seconds before the end Demircelen stroke for 24:23. After their final time-out Portugal were patient enough to beat the buzzer.

GROUP 7
Switzerland vs Iceland 22:21 (9:10)

Like in a test match one year ago, Switzerland took the points against Iceland, but this time it's a crucial win.

After their two opening defeats against France and Germany, the Swiss team are back in the race for qualification with two points.

Though Iceland were the more experienced squad, the fighting spirit of the hosts decided another exciting encounter.

The full 60 minutes were in the balance. The only time a team managed to be ahead by three goals, was at 8:5 in favour of Iceland.

Thanks to three straight goals, Switzerland levelled the result in a defence-orientated battle, and from that moment on the game was on the edge.

The deal was sealed only 38 seconds before the end when Sybille Scherer netted in for the 22:20 and became top scorer of Jesper Holmris’ team with five goals.

Even the sixth goal of Karen Knutsdottir did not prevent Iceland from a bitter defeat to remain bottom of the table with still no point on their account.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew
 
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