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15.01.2017, 19:30
Thanks to last-second hero, Turkovic, Italy go through
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REVIEW: It was decision time on Sunday, as the first phase of the EHF EURO 2020 Qualification came to an end, which brought a moment to remember for Italy.
 

Thanks to last-second hero, Turkovic, Italy go through

For Italy, a last-second goal against Luxembourg guaranteed their ticket through from Group C, having the upper-hand on the direct encounter between the two. Meanwhile, Estonia managed to turn the table in Group B and Greece comfortably came out on top in Group A.

Estonia, Greece and Italy will now move to the second phase of the qualification en route to the final tournament, held in Austria, Norway and Sweden in January 2020.

The six teams that did not qualify directly as group winners will have their chance again; however, they will join the European IHF Trophy competition, which will be played next June.

GROUP A
Faroe Islands vs Greece 24:26 (11:13)

Greece followed the win against Cyprus on Saturday (24:17) by beating Faroe Islands in Torshavn in the deciding game on Sunday, 26:24.

The hosts, having lost to Cyprus on Friday, needed to win by at least five goals in order to secure the top spot on goal differential. But, Greece made sure that didn’t happen and therefore, they go through on four points.

The Faroe Islands exchanged the lead in first half before Greece took the next step forward and had a two-goal lead at half-time (13:11).

With Vyron Papadopoulos once again the top scorer for Greece with six goals, Faroe Islands were never likely to leave the opponents in the dust, as they needed to.

With Allan Nordberg and Julian Olsen both scoring four goals for Faroe Islands, their lead was never larger than the one-goal lead following the break. When time started to slip away from the hosts, Greece went in for the kill.

Scoring four goals in a row and extending their lead (23:19), Greece was never in danger towards the end and the visitors walked off the court with a comfortable win (26:24) with the ticket from Group A in the bag.

GROUP B
Turkey vs Estonia 18:20 (10:8)

Estonia secured the top spot in Group B and the ticket through to the second stage of qualification, after turning things around and beating Turkey in Ankara on Sunday 20:18.

After a ten-goal defeat against Turkey on home soil on Wednesday (28:18), Estonia couldn‘t settle for anything less than a win to go through. Still without their top star Mait Patrail due to injury, it was Kristo Voika who stepped up and led the scoring chart with five goals.

The game was even until midway through the second half, when the Turks scored five goals in a row to gain a four-goal lead, (8:4). Estonia fought back before half-time, but still saw themselves two goals behind during the break (10:8).

Turkey, led by Alp Eren Pektas with five goals, seemed to be cruising smoothly and regained their four-goal lead early in the second half (15:11). But Estonia, with nothing left to loose, ate up the lead and with nine minutes to play, they finally managed to draw level again at 17.

Turkey seemed to be hit by surprise and for the last five minutes, the home team didn‘t manage to find the back of the net. Estonia put on the pressure and managed to over-take and secure a two-goal win (20:18).

Estonia will go through to the second phase as winners of Group B with six points, while Turkey sits behind with five.

GROUP C
Italy vs Luxembourg 26:24 (12:9)

It was an A-level drama in Siracusa on Sunday, when Italy qualified after an unbelievable victory against Luxembourg (26:24).

Having lost the first match by one goal (24:23), Italy needed to win by at least two to come out on top of the direct encounter between these two nations. After having had a comfortable lead early in the second half, Luxembourg cut it down to one goal with less than a minute left to play (25:24).

Just moments before the final whistle, Italian left back, Dean Turkovic, scored a stunning goal and guaranteed the ticket through for the Italians - a goal that will be go down in history that made Italy reach the second phase of the Qualification.

Luxembourg had the upper hand in the beginning of the match and took a three-goal lead early on (5:2). Before half-time, Italy managed to change the game in their favour and kept the lead heading into the break (12:9).

Italy continued their run after the break, extending their lead to five goals (15:10), before Luxembourg woke up again and attempted a comeback. However, as they look back, achieving the final result (26:24) and advancing in this matter will only be even sweeter for Italy.

Turkovic’s dream performance and the dramatic winner left Luxembourg players with their heads buried in their hands. Turkovic’s ten goals leaves him as the first phase qualification top scorer with 34 goals in four games.

The name - Dean Turkovic - will be on the lips of Italian handball fans for years to come.


TEXT: Andri Yrkill Valsson/tm
 
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