10-goal Turkish win puts Estonian dream on ice
With a win Estonia would have become the first team to proceed to the second stage of qualification for the men's EHF EURO 2020. However, their 28:18 loss at home against Turkey puts them with their back against the wall in Group B before the re-match on Sunday. In Group C, Luxembourg took the initiative with a 24:23 win against Italy in the first of their two all-or-nothing matches for the top spot.
Estonia vs Turkey 18:28 (9:11)
A victory against Turkey on Wednesday night would have secured Estonia a ticket to the next phase, being one point above the Turks before the match.
However, Turkey had the upperhand the whole game in Põlva and are now leading the group before the re-match at home on Sunday.
The Turks were awake from the first minute, scoring the first three goals with the fact in mind that this was their last chance to keep the EHF EURO dream alive.
Estonia, badly missing their top star Mait Patrail, seemed to be on their heels from the start and midway through the first half the Turks had extended their lead to six goals (9:3).
The hosts fought back before half-time (11:9) but still saw themselves two goals behind. And Estonia could not get any closer than that.
Midway through the second half, Turkey killed the last glimpse of hope which was left in the Estonian team. Led by Gökhan Örnek with six goals, they scored nine times in a row and secured a confident 10-goal victory.
Estonia, with a 37% shot efficiency in the game, are now one point behind the Turks and must win to turn things around in Ankara on Sunday.
Luxembourg vs Italy 24:23 (13:10)
Both on four points before their game on Wednesday night, Luxembourg are now a step closer to qualifying for the next phase after their win against Italy.
A close encounter from the beginning, both teams were all square until midway through the first half.
From then on, Luxembourg slowly took the initiative and took a three-goal lead at half-time.
Italy, with Dean Turkovic scoring seven times, were never far away after the break. With 15 minutes left to play they even draw level at 17:17.
But instead of losing the lead for the first time since 4:3, Luxembourg netted the next three goals.
Italy charged a last time and came within one goal as Turkovic scored a penalty in the closing seconds, but they had ran out of time to fight for an equaliser.
Martin Muller led Luxembourg with six goals.
Both teams are up against each other again in Siracusa on Sunday, where the pressure is all on Italy in what is a true final for the ticket through to the next stage of qualification for EHF EURO 2020.
TEXT: Andri Yrkill Valsson / ew