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05.11.2016, 16:32
Hrstka leads Czech Republic to first victory
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ROUND REVIEW 1: Spain and Czech Republic open Round 2 of EHF EURO 2018 Qualification with clear wins against Finland and FYR Macedonia on Saturday
 

Hrstka leads Czech Republic to first victory

The second round of EHF EURO 2018 Qualification began with another decisive victory for Spain, who defeated Finland at home 36:21 after winning their opening match against Bosnia-Herzegovina with a clear nine-goal advantage (30:21).

Spain have therefore established an early lead in Group 3, as they top the table with four points while Finland remain on two. Austria and Bosnia-Herzegovina each have zero with their Round 2 clash to be played on Sunday.

In Group 4, the first match of the day ended in favour of hosts Czech Republic, who were led by an exceptional performance from Jakub Hrstka with 10 goals from 10 shots. His teammate Leos Petrovsky also achieved 100 per cent accuracy, with seven goals.

GROUP 3
Finland vs Spain 21:36 (12:17)

Spain allowed the hosts of their Round 2 encounter little hope as they dominated the match from the first whistle. The 2013 world champions opened with the first goal thanks to Valero Rivera before cruising ahead to a five-goal lead after 15 minutes.

New coach Jordi Ribera relied on almost his entire squad to create the five-goal advantage that persisted from when Iosu Goni Leoz took the score to 8:3 in favour of the hosts at the end of the first quarter through to half-time.

Finland stayed with their strongest squad as they attempted to slow the EHF EURO 2016 silver medallists on the home court in Siuntio, but the hosts could not control the powerful Spain team.

When the second half began Spain increased their advantage to 20:13 after five minutes of play and created a 10-goal difference off Alex Dujshebaev (23:13) with still more than 20 minutes remaining.

At that point it was clear the two points were decided, but Spain did not let up and stormed home to a 15-goal win.

GROUP 4
Czech Republic vs FYR Macedonia 35:28 (18:12)

Fans in Plzen likely expected a closer contest than the one they witnessed – though the home crowd could hardly complain as their team recorded their first win of the EHF EURO 2018 Qualification Phase.

The teams remained level through the opening minutes before Czech Republic stunned FYR Macedonia into silence, recording a 7:0 run that turned the level score of 3:3 into a 10:3 advantage for the hosts.

It was Kiril Lazarov, who scored nine times overall and is now just two goals shy of scoring his 1000th for FYR Macedonia, who broke the visitors’ drought in the 18th minute. After his goal the guests found their rhythm again, and slowly decreased the deficit to six goals by half-time when Czech Republic’s Jakub Hrstka already tallied seven goals from seven shots.

Three consecutive goals from FYR Macedonia when the second half began prompted a timeout called by Czech Republic coach Daniel Kubes, after which the hosts took control again.

By the time the clock reached the 45-minute mark, Czech Republic had re-established a firm lead at 27:20 and it was clear FYR Macedonia would have difficulty coming back from such a deficit.

As the final whistle approached the hosts maintained their advantage, finishing with an seven-goal win that puts their first set of two points on the table. Czech Republic and FYR Macedonia are now equal on two points each.


TEXT: Courtney Gahan / ts
 
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