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06.05.2017, 22:03
Clear win secures qualification for Spain
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ROUND REVIEW 3: Spain defeat Austria by an 11-goal margin at home to book their place at the EHF EURO 2018, while Montenegro beat Slovakia and move up to second in Group 6.
 

Clear win secures qualification for Spain

The last EHF EURO 2018 Qualification matches on Saturday night saw 2016 silver medallists Spain book their berth at the final tournament with a decisive victory against Austria in Leon, while Montenegro made a big step toward Croatia when they defeated Slovakia.

GROUP 3
Spain vs Austria 35:24 (15:11)

Spain encountered quite a scare against Austria in the first encounter between these sides on Wednesday night, winning the match by one goal scored in the last minutes after trailing by five goals in the second half.

Early on it seemed the hosts might be in for just such a thrill ride again, as Austria allowed Spain to score the first goal before claiming a steady one to two-goal lead through the first 20 minutes.

But when Julen Aguinagalde levelled at 9:9 and Valero Rivera Folch took Spain in front to 10:9, it signalled a turning point. Spain created a clear distance through the last 10 minutes of the period to hold a four-goal advantage at half-time – and from there the EHF EURO 2016 runners-up took firm control.

In the opening seven minutes of the second half Spain moved ahead to 20:13, and as the clock entered the final 15 minutes remained in front with the same score line at 26:19.

Spain hit a 10-goal lead with a goal from Eduardo Gurbindo in the 53rd minute, which put the score at 31:21 and made it clear where the two points were heading.

The top scorer of the match was Austria’s Alexander Hermann, who tallied a total of eight goals.

GROUP 6
Montenegro vs Slovakia 31:30 (16:14)

Montenegro settled into second on the Group 6 table with their first victory of the qualification phase on Saturday night.

The hosts started the match strong while Slovakia took some time to settle in, allowing Montenegro to create a 3:0 advantage in the opening minutes and maintain a clear difference until the end of the first quarter.

Montenegro were in front 9:5 in the 14th minute, before their opponents recorded a 4:0 run that allowed Slovakia to equalise at 9:9 four minutes later. From that point it was a one-for-one game until the last minute of the half, when the home side pulled ahead by two goals to hold a crucial difference at the break.

Led in attack by the trio of left back Vuko Borozan, right back Vladan Lipovina and line player Nemanja Grbovic (eight goals at 100 per cent), who top scored for the hosts, Montenegro continued to increase their advantage in the second half.

With two players out on suspensions, Slovakia saw the distance grow to four goals at 23:19 by the 40th minute.

Though two consecutive suspensions for Montenegro put the hosts in a perilous position when the score stood at 27:23 in their favour with just over 11 minutes on the clock, they did not slow down.

As the final whistle approached Montenegro kept their visitors at a steady distance before Slovakia closed the gap to one goal inside the last minute – but it was too late, and the home team held on to finish with their first win on the road to Croatia.

The two points from this victory mean Montenegro move up to four points on the table, directly behind group frontrunners Sweden, while Russia and Slovakia remain on two.


TEXT: Courtney Gahan / jh
 
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