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16.06.2017, 11:00
Belarus, Hungary and Serbia book EHF EURO spots
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ROUND REVIEW 4: EHF EURO 2018 Qualification Round 5 wrapped up with victories for Belarus and Hungary, while FYR Macedonia and Ukraine played out a draw that means all is still to be decided in Group 4.
 

Belarus, Hungary and Serbia book EHF EURO spots

Round 5 of EHF EURO 2018 finished with Hungary and Belarus booking their places at the final tournament in style, as both recorded clear away victories.

Belarus were not the only team in Group 2 to celebrate their win, as their victory means Serbia are sure to finish as one of the top two sides and they have therefore secured their place in Croatia.

FYR Macedonia came close to becoming the first team in Group 4 to win away, before Ukraine levelled the score in the final minute to snatch  a draw. As all the teams in the group remain within two points of each other in the table, both of Group 4’s tickets to Croatia will be decided in Round 6.

GROUP 1
Latvia vs Hungary 23:35 (9:15)

The match in Valmiera started very slowly, with neither team able to successfully convert the few shots taken. The first goal came courtesy of Latvia’s Aivis Jurdzs in the eighth minute.

Right back Gabor Ancsin put Hungary’s first goal on the board just before the clock showed nine minutes, but while Latvia appeared to find their rhythm it took another five minutes for the visiting side to score again.

Once Richard Bodo took the score to 3:2 however, Hungary settled in and by the 20-minute mark had taken the lead 6:5. Hungary earned a comfortable advantage at 13:7 with a strong five minutes as the half came to a close, and held a six-goal lead at the break.

Hungary coach Xavi Sabate clearly found the right words for his side during half-time, as they returned much stronger and quickly increased the gap. By the time the last quarter of the match began, Hungary were clearly in command at 25:15.

With such an advantage all Hungary had to do was hold on, and as Sabate rotated his entire bench, the margin of victory increased to 12 by the final whistle.

The victory puts Hungary’s points tally on seven, which means they are safely through to the EHF EURO 2018 as at least the second-ranked side.

GROUP 2
Romania vs Belarus 22:32 (11:19)

Led by two each from Artur Karvatski and Uladzislau Kulesh, Belarus scored four unanswered goals before Marius Iulian Mocanu found the back of the net for Romania.

As the match progressed it became clear Romania would not recover from their slow start, as Belarus kept a steady advantage of two-to-three goals through the first quarter before creating the decisive gap. From 8:5 midway through the half, the visitors pulled ahead to lead by eight goals at the break – a deficit Romania could not close.

While Romania struggled to find the goal, Belarus seemed to have little trouble despite having a vocal stadium against them.

It took five minutes of play in the second half for Belarus to reach a 10-goal advantage, after which coach Xavi Pascual called a time-out for the hosts that had little effect.

When the last 10 minutes began, Belarus were in front 28:16, and it was clear the two points were decided.

Belarus move up to seven points alongside frontrunners Serbia with the victory, which means both sides booked places in Croatia with their Round 5 wins. Their head-to-head clash in Round 6 will determine the group winners and with it crucial ranking towards seeding for the EHF EURO 2018.

GROUP 4
Ukraine vs FYR Macedonia 27:27 (14:18)

FYR Macedonia took to the court with the knowledge that no team in their group had won a match away in the entire qualification phase – and it proved impossible for them to fully break that pattern as the game ended in a draw. The stalemate means still nothing is decided in Group 4.

At the 10-mintue mark the score stood level at 5:5, then 12:12 as Kiril Lazarov netted his sixth goal in the 22nd minute. Four consecutive goals from the visiting side followed, opening a 16:12 advantage for FYR Macedonia.

FYR Macedonia maintained the four-goal scoreline at the break, and Ukraine were left chasing right through to the final minute.

In the second half Ukraine came within one goal on several occasions, but could never level the score as the visitors kept a steady lead. With 15 minutes left FYR Macedonia led 25:22, and as the clock passed 55 minutes they remained in control at 27:25.

But with the final two goals of the match – Olexandr Shevelev’s fifth and Zakhar Denysov’s fourth from as many attempts – Ukraine equalised inside the last 60 seconds to secure the draw.


TEXT: Courtney Gahan / ap
 
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