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07.05.2017, 23:29
Denmark take revenge, while Poland claim first point
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ROUND REVIEW 5: Dujshebaev’s squad lose the lead against Belarus to finish with a draw, Jacobsen’s home debut ends with a clear win against Hungary, and Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina record victories.
 

Denmark take revenge, while Poland claim first point

Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina took their second straight wins in their EHF EURO 2018 Qualification double headers against Romania and Finland on Saturday night. While the Serbians made a huge step towards the final tournament as they moved up to first in the group, Bosnia-Herzegovina kept themselves in the race for a ticket to Croatia.

Perhaps this race is already over for Poland, as again the EHF EURO 2016 hosts did not win – but did take their first point of qualification in what was their fourth match.

While Poland drew with Belarus, Denmark are close to a place in Croatia after taking revenge against Hungary for their World Championship 2017 elimination.

GROUP 1
Denmark vs Hungary 35:27 (18:17)

Denmark remain unbeaten as they made a huge step towards the EHF EURO 2018 on Sunday. The 2016 Olympic champions only need one more point from either of the remaining two matches, against Netherlands and Lithuania, to book the ticket to Croatia.

After their extremely lucky 25:25 draw in Budapest on Thursday, Denmark left no question against the Hungarians in the second leg. Thus, Denmark finally managed to take revenge for the eighth-final defeat at World Championship 2017 in France.

For 30 minutes, the visitors presented a big challenge. Denmark needed a time-out called by new coach Nikolaj Jacobsen as a wake-up call after 13 minutes, when Hungary were ahead 8:5 after three straight goals of Richard Bodo.

But Jacobsen’s intervention did not work immediately, as the visitors even forged ahead to 10:6. The Hungarian lead lasted until 17:16 before a true goal parade ahead of the break – including a double strike from right wing Lasse Svan that turned the result into the first lead at 18:17 the knot was cut.

Starting with another triple strike that put the score at 21:17, the hosts took control of the match.

When Mikkel Hansen, who finished on top of the scorer list with eight goals, hammered another shot into the net for 25:19, the deal was as good as sealed in minute 40.

The Danish defence had clearly improved, as Hansen’s hammers, efficient counter attacks from Svan (seven goals overall) and goalkeeper Niklas Landin caused trouble for the Hungarians.

The biggest gap was nine goals at 34:25, as the visitors had resigned quite early and could not stop the Danish express anymore.

GROUP 2
Poland vs Belarus 27:27 (13:15)
 
Is the Polish glass half empty, half full or perhaps even completely empty? The 27:27 draw against their neighbours was the first point of the qualification phase for the team of head coach Talant Dujshebaev.

Poland-Belarus_565

With this single point in their account, even two victories against Romania and Serbia in the final rounds might not be enough to qualify for the EHF EURO 2018. But Sunday’s draw could also prove the turning point of the campaign.

After their impressive 32:23 home win on Thursday, Belarus knew Poland would fight for the last straw, but the visitors were again well prepared. As Belarus now have five points in their account, the gate to Croatia is open – but not yet fully.

In this close match, Poland took their first lead at 20:19 in the middle of the second half. Prior to that, the Belarusian defence stood extremely well and the hosts had huge problems scoring.

But still, Poland could not turn the match completely around before the final stages – particularly after defence specialist Mateusz Kus received a direct red card in minute 45.  

The last 10 minutes started with a 24:21 for Belarus, then Poland turned the tide with a 6:1 series that took them in front to 27:25 with only three minutes left.

None of the fans could guess that they had already seen the last Polish goal, but after that moment it was only Belarus that scored, thanks to Ivan Brouka and Uladzislau Kulesh.

The top scorers were Barys Pukhouski with nine goals, while Kulesh added seven. For Poland Przemyslaw Krajewski and Michal Daszek netted five times each.
 
Serbia vs Romania 27:22 (16:13)

After the buzzer-beating 23:22 win in Romania on Thursday, Serbia won the rematch against the former group leaders – and now sit on top of the table with six points.

On the other hand, Romania lost a great base for their first EHF EURO ticket since 1996 in the match on Sunday night.

Like in the first leg, Romania stood well-organised in defence, but had problems in attack. The main reason for that was Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Cupara, who put on an extraordinary performance.

Cupara’s saves provided the hosts with a series of counter attack opportunities – and were the reason Serbia managed to extend the gap to 14:8. Romania’s Spanish coach Xavier Pascual responded with a time-out, and his side reduced the margin to three goals before the break.

But still, the cooperation between Cupara and the defence worked perfectly. Romania only scored nine goals in the second half.

The only reason the score line was only 24:20 in Serbia’s favour with eight minutes to play was that Jovica Cvetkovic’s players made too many technical mistakes in attack and were blocked well by the Romania’s middle defenders.

Finally, the deal was sealed when Meshkov Brest line player Rastko Stojkovic scored for 25:20.

Despite being short-handed for 12 minutes, Serbia claimed two important points in the open group, where Romania remain in third position with four points behind Belarus on five.

The top scorers of the match were Darko Djukic with five goals for the victors and Chike Osita Onyejekwe (four for Romania).

Serbia-Romania_Nenadic_565

GROUP 3
Bosnia Herzegovina vs Finland 34:23 (19:12)

Thanks to their second victory against Finland, Bosnia-Herzegovina cheated the gallows and moved to second position below the Spaniards, who have already qualified for the EHF EURO 2018.

With four points now in their account, the Bosnians are two points ahead of Austria and Finland.

Like in their 32:27 away win on Thursday, the first half decided the match. Racing ahead to 19:12, the hosts sealed the deal while the Finnish side lacked physical strength and international experience compared to the strong Bosnia-Herzegovina shooters.

Led by Senjamin Buric and Marko Panic, who scored seven goals each, Bosnia-Herzegovina did not have any problems controlling their opponents.

The last group match between Austria and Bosnia-Herzegovina will now likely be the crucial game for the group’s second spot in Croatia.

The top scorer for Finland was Nico Rönnberg with seven goals.


TEXT: Bjorn Pazen / cg
 
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