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04.01.2017, 21:31
Estonia and Luxembourg start with easy victories
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REVIEW: Hosts Georgia and Kosovo were left without a chance in their Round 3 matches of the EHF EURO 2020 Qualification Phase 1
 

Estonia and Luxembourg start with easy victories

Estonia and Luxembourg had a victorious start in the first qualification stage for the Men’s EHF EURO 2020 in Sweden, Norway and Austria.

On Wednesday, both marched in step taking easy-earned wins at Georgia (Luxembourg) and Kosovo (Estonia). The return games will follow this weekend.

Next week will decide which three teams advance directly to the final qualification stage. In contrast to Groups B and C, Group A will be decided in a tournament on the Faroe Islands next week.

GROUP B:
Kosovo vs Estonia 17:31 (7:13)

Even without German Bundesliga aces Dener Jaanimaa and Mait Patrail or other stars like Janar Mägi, Mikk Pinnonen, Karl Toom, Carl-Eric Uibo or Ardo Puna, Estonia did not have any problems at Kosovo.

With most of the big names injured, other players like Jürgen Rooba, who was the top scorer with eight goals, could prove their international improvement.

After their first ever point in an official match in November (24:24 against Turkey), Kosovo‘s ambitions and hopes were shattered early as Estonia forged ahead from 2:2 to 8:2.

Defence stood strong

Kosovo’s top star Florim Hoxha remained without a goal in the first half, while the Estonian defence stood strong. With a higher percentage in attack, the gap at half-time would have been even bigger than six goals (13:7), but coach Rein Suvi had started an early rotation in his squad.

Despite the constant changes, the Estonians headed to their first 10-goal advance (20:10) after only 11 minutes of the second half, easily calming down the arena.

Experienced Kosovo coach Taip Ramadani, who proviously led Australia, tried everything he could, including replacing the goalkeeper by an additional court player.

But the physical stronger Estonian defence and the outstanding goalkeeper Rasmus Ott did not allow many goals, and even led to many turnovers which helped the guests to take a clear away win.

Second leg: Estonia vs Kosovo
Sunday, 19:30 hrs local times in Pölva

GROUP C:
Georgia vs Luxembourg 24:31 (12:11)

As Georgia lacked power and concentration in the last 20 minutes, Luxembourg started their EURO 2020 campaign victorious. They are now the clear favourites for the second leg on home ground on Saturday, too.

The hosts, who lost both encounters against Italy in November and now can not win the group anymore, had their strongest period in the second part of the first half.

Thanks to goals from Irakli Chikovani, who went on to become their best scorer with eight, they turned a 6:9 deficit into a 12:10 lead.

After the break, Luxembourg clearly improved, but Georgia remained in a close position until the score of 18:19 in minute 44.

Efficiency in attack

But by keeping the efficiency in attack and defence high, the team of Romanian-born coach Adrian Stot extended the gap minute by minute.

"Our defence and goalkeeping were stronger in the crucial stages," Stot said. "The win was well deserved due to our performance after the break. It was the first of four steps towards the next qualification stage."

In his team, Martin Muller was the best scorer with seven goals, Tommy Wirtz and Max Kohl netted six times each.

The question which team will proceed directly to the group stage of the EHF EURO 2020 Qualification will be answered during the two duels between Luxembourg and Italy next week.

Second leg: Luxembourg vs Georgia
Saturday, 18:00 hrs local times in Luxemburg


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew
 
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