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04.05.2017, 21:30
Lights out for Romania, lights on for Lazarov
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ROUND REVIEW 4: Macedonian shooter scores eleven times against Iceland, while two buzzer-beaters provide Denmark and Serbia with crucial points.
 

Lights out for Romania, lights on for Lazarov

Four matches concluded the third qualification round for the Men's EHF EURO 2018 on Thursday night, and two of them were decided by buzzer-beaters.

First Petar Nenadic secured a Serbian win in Romania, then a penalty goal by Anders Eggert of Denmark rescued a draw at Hungary.

In less dramtic circumstances, FYR Macedonia won 30:25 against Iceland thanks to eleven goals of Kiril Lazarov, and Portugal triumphed 27:25 over Switzerland.

GROUP 1:
Hungary vs Denmark 25:25 (14:11)

The fans in the Laszlo Papp Arena in Budapest saw a true thriller, in the same venue that will host the TIPPMIX EHF FINAL4 of the Women's Champions League at the weekend.

The last second decided the match, as first Laszlo Nagy received a direct red card after a foul against Henrik Toft Hansen, before Anders Eggert remained cold as ice to score the proceeding penalty and claim the draw.

Both sides are clearly en route to the EHF EURO2018, with both reamining unbeaten with five points each on their account.

In his debut on the Danish bench, Nikolaj Jacobsen saw waves of ups and downs from his team, and finally could be happy with this point.

The host were constantly ahead until 50 minutes, and had been boosted by the saves of Roland Mikler, who clearly won the goalkeeper duel against Niklas Landin and Kevin Möller, and the seven goals each from Iman Jamali and Mate Lekai.

In the middle of the first half, Denmark had extreme problems scoring against the strong Hungarian defence, and were down by 13:8.

After the break, the Scandinavians were more efficient from the wing positions, reducing the gap goal-by-goal. Four straight strikes from 21:18 to 22:21 turned the match around, before the hosts were back on track. They seemed to be on their way to winning again at 25:24, but there was still four minutes to go.

Both sides did not score any more, until the crucial moment just before the final whistle.

Magnus Landin, Kasper Söndergaard and Hans Lindberg were the best Danish scorers, with four goals each.

GROUP 2
Romania vs Serbia 22:23 (9:13)

A buzzer-beating goal by Petar Nenadic provided Serbia with two important points and shocked the brave Romanians.

For their Spanish born coach Xavier Pascual it was the first defeat in an official match, and the 23:22 was a setback for Romanian of making it their first EHF EURO since 1996. Like Belarus and Romania, Serbia are on four points now.

After their previous wins against Belarus and Poland, the hosts were full of confidence.

After an equal start, the match had to be interrupted for more than 20 minutes due to problems with the arena lights in Baia Mare. Twenty minutes had been played, and the score was 8:8.

After the technicians managed to solve the problem, the hosts had lost their pace completely.

Serbia profited from two Romanian suspensions, scored four goals in a row to be ahead 12:8, and kept the difference until the break. The hosts only scored once in ten minutes.

Boosted by the strikes of wing Darko Djukic and left back Petar Djordjic, the Serbs started well in the second half, keeping the gap at four goals.

But then Pascals time-out and a clear improvement of goalkeeper Mihai Catalin Popescu were the reasons for the great chase by the hosts.

At 15:15, they were close to turning the match around completely, but never managed to take the lead.

When they had caught reduced the defecit to 22:20, thanks to the eighth strike of their top scorer Valentin Ghionnea, with only 40 seconds left, all hoped for a point.

But Nenadic, who scored four of the final five Serbian goals, shattered all hopes with his seventh strike.

GROUP 4
FYR Macedonia vs Iceland 30:25 (15:13)

Two years ago, Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson and Kiril Lazarov raised the VELUX EHF Champions League trophy together with FC Barcelona. On Thursday night the experienced stars had a personal shoot-out in Skopje with their national teams.

After 30 minutes, when the Macedonians were ahead by 15:13, the legendary right back for the hosts already had eight goals on his tally, while left wing 'Goggi' was on five strikes for Iceland. After 60 minutes the balance was 11:6 for Lazarov.

Boosted by their frenetic fans and having in mind the defeat to the Czech Republic in Round 2, the Macedonians started prepared in defence and efficient in attack.

At 8:5 (Lazarovs's fourth goal) they had their first three-goal advantage, with the biggest gaps coming at 11:7 and 14:10, before the 'Vikings' managed to reduce the gap to only two goals at the break.

In his comeback match after a shoulder injury, Aron Palmarsson was the guiding light for Iceland - and he was one reason for the impressive 7:2 series of his side from 14:10 down to 17:16 in the lead. The first Icelandic attack after the break instantly calming down the fans in Skopje.

If you thought the hosts were on the floor, you were wrong. With his ninth goal - via a penalty - Lazarov again provided the Macedonians with a three-goal advantage at 22:19. Predictably it was the goal machine who finally decided the encounter, netting in for the 28:25.

While the Macedonians took the lead, equal with Ukraine, Iceland are under a certrain amount of pressure after their second defeat, but they still lie equal with the Czechs.

GROUP 5
Switzerland vs Portugal 25:27 (11:13)

Five months after a brilliant performance and an unlucky 23:22 home defeat against EURO champions Germany, Switzerland have landed on the ground in a rough way.

After losing their third match in the EURO 2018 qualification, their chances of making it to Croatia are now at a minimum.

On the other hand, Portugal are equal with Slovenia on three points now, and can even pass the World Championship bronze medallist next weekend.

The visitors had a strong start, while the Swiss team needed ten minutes to score their first goal - and by that time they were already 4:0 down.

Later, the hosts managed to reduce the gap to 13:11 at the break, but then had another blank 15 minutes.

While Andy Schmid and his teammates only scored four goals in this period, Portugal had decided the encounter already at the score of 21:15.

Top scorers in a mostly one-sided match were Swiss youngster Lenny Rubin with seven goals, and Gilberto Duarte with six strikes for Portugal.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ap
 
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