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01.06.2016, 23:34
Spain, Germany and Czech Republic book places in Sweden
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ROUND REVIEW 2: Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic record wins that secure their places at the EHF EURO 2016 in December as qualification continues on Wednesday
 

Spain, Germany and Czech Republic book places in Sweden

Czech Republic and Spain join the list of teams to compete at the EHF EURO 2016 in December in Sweden after claiming away victories against Italy and Austria in Round 5 of the qualification phase.

Denmark scraped a win against Turkey after a closer-than-expected 60 minutes and await the results of Portugal-Russia on Thursday to learn their fate, and Germany defeat Switzerland meaning they are safe to progress with France winning their tie in Iceland.

Group 2: Italy vs Czech Republic 19:29 (11:15)

As Czech Republic defeated Italy by more than 15 goals in their Round 1 meeting, they were confident of a victory in Conversano-Bari on Wednesday.

Almost every player on their start list contributed to the win against an Italian side that played their starting six through almost the entire match.

As expected, Cristina Gheorghe was the most powerful asset in Italy’s attack, scoring seven goals in the match.

After Italy trailed behind through the opening minutes it was Gheorghe who took them within one just after 15 minutes, with a penalty goal that closed the gap to 7:8.

But as Italy struggled to find the back of the net, missing half their shots, Czech Republic opened up an advantage again to lead by four at half-time.

After the break the visitors began to show their strength, though they also recorded unforced errors in attack and wasted shots that meant it took some time to create a commanding lead.

Still, their victory was never in question and when Czech Republic were in front 25:17 with 10 minutes remaining it was clear the two points would go home with the visitors.

The win means Czech Republic move up to seven points and secure Group 2’s second place at the final tournament, after Serbia defeated Ukraine earlier on Wednesday evening.

Group 3: Austria vs Spain 26:33 (12:16)

When Austria and Spain met in Round 1 in October last year Spain won 25:15 – a final score that indicated Austria could seriously challenge Wednesday’s visiting team if they could only fix their problems in attack.

The home team, led as usual by perennial high scorer Katrin Engel (nine goals) seemed to have worked out their kinks against the Spanish defence and kept level through the first quarter of the game.

Spain created their first two-goal advantage at 15 minutes with a goal from Marta Mangue, before Alexandrina Cabral Barbosa increased the lead to three at 11:8.

Cabral Barbosa scored the last goal of the half from the penalty line, securing a four-goal lead for Spain with just over a minute left in the period.

A frenzy of goals in the first six minutes of the second half took the score to 20:16 as Spain’s four-goal lead persisted, but Austria slowly closed the gap to threaten their visitors with a two-goal difference at 20:22 right before the clock showed 45 minutes.

Spain then quickened the pace and streaked ahead to lead 27:21 just five minutes later, essentially deciding the match with 10 minutes left.

At the final whistle the guests held their advantage by seven goals, recording their fourth win of the qualification phase to book their spot in Sweden.

Group 6: Turkey vs Denmark 23:26 (11:12)

Though they recorded a win in the end, and because of it are almost certain of securing their place in Sweden – as long as Russia do not lose to Portugal on Thursday – Denmark must have been surprised to encounter such a challenge in Turkey.

The Scandinavian side defeated their hosts 28:19 in their first meeting of the qualification phase, and were therefore expected to secure a comfortable win in Rize.

Though Turkey were missing high-scoring left wing Yasemin Sahin, they kept pace with Denmark through the slow opening 10 minutes until the visiting side pulled ahead to a 7:4 advantage at the 15-minute mark.

But the hosts were persistent, repeatedly fighting their way back from two or three-goal deficits, including a 9:12 score line with just a minute left in the first half, which they closed to one by the break.

The main contest was between Serpil Iskenderoglu and Stine Jörgensen, who scored eight and six respectively, though each team put on a solid performance in attack with goals coming from all over the court.

Inside the last ten minutes the score was still level at 21:21 when Kristina Kristiansen scored her second goal, but in the end Denmark’s greater international experience proved the decisive factor.

The visitors were composed enough to score three goals in the dying minutes, while Iskenderoglu missed Turkey’s two chances to close the gap.

Group 7: Switzerland vs Germany 23:25 (14:14)

It was perhaps a closer match than expected for the Germany team that travelled to St Gallen, particularly as they played a Switzerland side with only 13 players on the start list.

Switzerland started the game stronger though, immediately taking the lead and leaving Germany to work hard to close the gap.

The visitors did so quickly and after that the first half was a one-for-one race dominated by Switzerland right back Xenia Hodel (seven goals) and right wing Svenja Huber, who scored eight for Germany.

With goals added almost every minute, the score remained level through the race to half-time. But when the match resumed after the break Switzerland held the edge; always the first to score until Germany reclaimed the advantage with just over 15 minutes left.

After that point the visitors never surrendered the lead, hitting a three-goal advantage more than once, most decisively in the 58th minute when Anne Hubinger took Germany ahead to 25:22 – a difference Switzerland could not overcome at such a late stage.

With two points added to their account after this victory against Switzerland, the Germans had to wait for the results of Iceland versus France to learn that they had qualified for the final tournament in Sweden.

As Iceland remain on two points and therefore cannot move above four even if they defeat Germany in Round 6, Germany are qualified as the second-ranked team in the group.

PHOTO: Jakob Gruber


TEXT: Courtney Gahan / bc
 
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