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06.11.2016, 20:13
Belarus and Lithuania take unexpected victories
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ROUND REVIEW 2: Belarus and Lithuania have thrown Groups 2 and 7 in the EHF EURO 2018 Qualification wide open by recording their first campaign wins against Serbia and Norway respectively
 

Belarus and Lithuania take unexpected victories

6 November 2016 may well go down in EHF history as 'Surprise Sunday'.

After France nearly stumbled against Belgium, Serbia (at home against Belarus) and Norway (away against Lithuania) conceded defeats that arguably only a minority would have deemed possible before this day.

Group 2:
Serbia vs. Belarus 27:36 (13:20)

Two rounds, two entirely different performances. This is one resume following Belarus' 36:27 win against Serbia on Sunday.

After Serbia had tamed Poland at home, winning 37:32, and Belarus had lost 26:23 on home court against Romania, the favourites' role looked clearly assigned to Serbia – but the outcome was a different one: Serbia lost two crucial points on the road to the EHF EURO 2018, while Belarus are back in the game.

Led by outstanding Barys Pukhouski (eight goals) and Andrei Yurinok (7), Belarus were in full control throughout the entire 60 minutes.

When Artsem Karalek, who also scored seven goals in the game, netted for 7:2, the fans in Nis were in a state of shocked, as they had expected a clear Serbian win.

But the weak start had visibly dented Serbia's confidence. They reduced the gap to 9:12 and the chance to turn the match around was there, but then they missed too many chances – and Belarus forged ahead to a seven-goal lead (20:13) at the break.

Serbia's young right wing Darko Djukic scored eight goals in the game, but the closest Serbia got in the second half was at 20:24 and the Belorussian victory was never under threat.

With Serbia and Romania now on two points, Group 2 has been thrown wide open before Rounds 3 and 4 are played in May next year.
 
Group 7:
Lithuania vs. Norway 32:29 (15:16)

Group 7 has been thrown equally open after Lithuania have beaten Norway, with both teams now on two points after two rounds have been played.

In Round 1 mid-week, Norway had beaten Belgium comfortably 35:26, while Lithuania were overrun by France (37:20) – but on Sunday they surprisingly turned the tide.

The lead changed constantly between the two teams throughout the match, and in the end Norway missed too many chances to take their second win in EHF EURO 2018 Qualification.

The first half was like a roller coaster ride, with Norway enjoying the better start, then Lithuania taking the lead and forging ahead to a three-goal advantage at 13:10, but at half-time Norway had again the upper hand (15:16).

After exactly 40 minutes, Norway even led by three, 22:19, boosted by the goals of Christian Björnsen who netted nine times overall. But backed by their fans, the Baltic nation struck back.

However, it took Lithuania only nine minutes to turn the match around and lead 26:24.

When Valdas Drabavicius netted for the 29:25, the deal seemed to be sealed, but Norway again reduced the gap to 28:29.

Hence it was only in the 59th minute when Rolandas Bernatonis decided the match with his eighth goal for 31:29.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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