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14.06.2017, 23:28
First win for Russia; Montenegro end Sweden’s unbeaten run
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ROUND REVIEW 2: Round 5 of EHF EURO 2018 Qualification sees Montenegro defeat Sweden, Russia record their first victory, and Denmark beat the Netherlands despite missing their biggest stars.
 

First win for Russia; Montenegro end Sweden’s unbeaten run

EHF EURO 2018 Qualification Round 5 continued with Montenegro becoming the first side in Group 6 to defeat Sweden. They won with 10 goals scored by VELUX EHF Champions League winner and current top scorer of the competition, Vuko Borozan.

Also in Group 6, Russia recorded their first win of the qualification phase, but it was not without trouble against Slovakia. Nevertheless, Russia remain in the race for Croatia as they prepare for the clash against Montenegro that will decide the group’s second ticket to the final tournament.

In Group 1, Denmark booked their place at the EHF EURO 2018 with a clear victory against the Netherlands, despite missing their biggest stars.

GROUP 1
Netherlands vs Denmark 24:36 (10:18)

Despite missing a number of their most notable stars, as coach Nikolaj Jacobsen elected to give the likes of Mikkel Hansen, Niklas Landin, Rene and Henrik Toft Hansen, and wings Anders Eggert and Lasse Svan Rounds 5 and 6 off, Denmark had little trouble containing their opponents in Almere.

The 2016 Olympic champions allowed the Netherlands to hold a narrow edge during the first 10 minutes before taking control and creating a 9:5 lead midway through the half.

By the 19th minute Denmark were clear in front at 12:6, and only continued to pull ahead to an eight-goal advantage by half-time.

In the second period there was little the Netherlands could do but try to keep the distance where it stood. But Denmark held on to a six to seven-goal lead and as the 50-minute mark approached, increased it further to reach a margin of 10 at 27:17 thanks to left wing Magnus Landin.

At that point it was clear the winner was decided and that Denmark would celebrate qualification for the EHF EURO 2018 in Croatia at the final whistle.

GROUP 6
Montenegro vs Sweden 28:24 (16:7)

As Sweden entered the Round 5 match undefeated with the maximum eight points, backed by the fact that they won the first-leg clash against Montenegro by 15 goals at 36:21, the Scandinavian side were favoured to continue their unbeaten run in Niksic.

But, fresh from his VELUX EHF Champions League victory with Vardar, Vuko Borozan said before the match that he was sure Montenegro would celebrate with fans on home soil – and the now top scorer in EHF EURO Qualification quickly led the home team to show that he was right.

Borozan scored Montenegro’s first two goals of the match, helping them claim a 5:3 advantage by the 13th minute when all of Sweden’s goals had come from Niclas Ekberg.  

Montenegro hit 10 goals in the 20th minute off Milos Vujovic, while Sweden fell three short of the same target in the first half. At the break, when Borozan already tallied seven successful attempts, Montenegro held a commanding nine-goal advantage.

With 15 minutes remaining Montenegro were still well in control at 23:16 and it was clear they were on their way to claiming another crucial two points.

Borozan finished the match with a tally of 10 goals, which moved him up to an overall 43 for the qualification phase ahead of FYR Macedonia’s match on Thursday night, when his closest rival Kiril Lazarov can be expected to punish the Ukrainian goal.

Slovakia vs Russia 24:25 (12:12)

After a disappointing campaign that had seen Russia gain only two points from two draws in their first clashes with Slovakia and Montenegro, the visiting team initially appeared to have found their form in Bratislava.

In a packed Zimny stadion Ondreja Nepelu, where capacity stands at over 10,000 and the Slovakian Handball Federation expected to break their record for attendance at a handball match on Wednesday night, Russia worked hard to keep control of the motivated home team.

The visitors consistently held a narrow edge, with either a level score or Russia one ahead through the first quarter of the match before Igor Soroka edged the guests in front to 8:6 just as the clock struck 15 minutes.

But a team time-out helped Slovakia regain composure and they levelled the match again at 9:9 as the last 10 minutes of the half began. At the break the score remained level, and in the second period it proved impossible for either side to shake the other.

Once again Russia took control initially, but by the 45-minute mark Slovakia had pulled the score back to level at 18:18. From there it was a one-for-one match right up until the final minute.

When the last 60 seconds began the score was equal at 24:24 with the home side in possession, but Daniil Shishkarev intercepted the ball and after a foul on the subsequent fast break, Slovakia’s Jakub Mikita was sent off for two minutes.

Russia capitalised on the numerical advantage as Shishkarev scored his sixth goal to earn the guests their first win of the qualification phase. The two points from the victory moved Russia up to four on the table, where they sit right behind Montenegro ahead of their now decisive clash in Round 6.


TEXT: Courtney Gahan/kc
 
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