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03.08.2017, 14:00
Semi-final matches confirmed at Women’s 19 EHF EURO
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DAY REVIEW: Hungary play France, Denmark to face Russia on Friday as Main Round ends and last four teams are confirmed
 

Semi-final matches confirmed at Women’s 19 EHF EURO

The four table-topping teams from the Preliminary Round were confirmed late last night as the top two teams in each Main Round group will face each other on Friday in the Women’s 19 EHF EURO semi-finals.

Despite the day starting with numerous possibilities of who could qualify through – Denmark were the only team confirmed before play – it proved to be the strongest four teams from the Preliminary Round who made the cut.

The full playing schedule can be found HERE and all games are free and live on ehfTV.com.

Main Round

Group 1
Norway had to win, and then rely on goal difference to qualify to the last four, but in the end Vigdis Holmesett’s Norwegian side proved no barrier to the progress of Hungary who won easily - 26:18 (15:8) and who had Bernadett Hornyak’s six goals to thank, as well as best player-performance from Sara Suba in the Hungarian goal.

Hungary were already six goals in front (10:4) after 13 minutes and extended it at half-time to seven (15:8), to ensure a second half without too much pressure.

The early 2:0 lead indicated that Norway will have to give its best to beat the only team with four points in group M1. After thirteen minutes, Hungary was ahead by as much as six goals (10:4), and it even extended the lead by half-time (15:8). In the second half, the situation on the court remained the same, and Hungary secured the top position in group M1, advancing into the semi-final, where it will face France.

“Hungary is a strong team and they make the right decisions in attack,” said Kenneth Gabrielsen, Norway’s assistant coach. “We learned a lot from the today’s match.”

Russia, who slipped up against Hungary the day before this match, needed a win to ensure their smooth passage through, and once again EHF Rising Star Antonina Skorobogatchenko (6 goals) could be relied on to help them win, as they defeated Netherlands 25:20 (14:11).

Olga Sherbak (Russia) and Engelina Molenaar (Netherlands) won the best player awards for their teams as Netherlands finished bottom of the group, below Norway.

“We knew that the match against Russia would be very tough,” said Robert Nijdam, Netherlands’ head coach. “I am very proud of my players because they put up a fight and gave their all.”

Group 2
Any hopes Montenegro had of beating France and qualifying through to the semi-finals quickly evaporated as the French avenged their defeat against Denmark on the previous matchday to beat the Balkan side 28:18 (21:11). An exciting first half gave way to an extremely second half which ended 7:7 such was the defensive performance on display.

“The Montenegrin players were visibly tired but we were well-prepared,” said French head coach Eric Baradat. “The gap of 10 goals does not indicate the real difference between the two teams, but today the match went our way. Now, we will be fighting for the medals. Denmark, Hungary and Russia are excellent teams, and they have won medals - maybe the time has come for us to go one step higher.”

In the other match, Denmark who had already confirmed a final four place, put up a great fight to beat Germany 22:21 (14:6), restricting their opponents to just six first-half strikes, but having a nervy second period, narrowly taking the victory by just one goal. Sarah Grunnet Stougaard scored eight times to ensure the win, with Laerke Sofie Tandrup Sorensen adding the extra steel to the side needed to grab the two points –  goalkeeper Sorensen later won best player for her efforts of 18 saves, and which were enough to see out the final 15 seconds when the Germans came within one for the first time.

Denmark top their group and are the only team at Slovenia 2017 to have won all five of their games to date.

Despite the win, Danish coach Heine Mogensen Eriksen admitted there were things to work on.

“We are happy that we advanced to the semi-final,” he said. “We had an excellent first half against Germany, but our performance in the second half was disastrous. I am not bothered by the way we played but by the players’ attitude. I don’t want to see players who are not fighting and enter the court without energy.”

Intermediate Round
Group 1 saw Romania’s Sorina Maria Tirca score a further nine goals, to put her second in the tournament top-scorer list (36 goals) as her side beat FYR Macedonia 29:21 (17:10).

“All our players were given a chance to play,” explained Ion Craciun, Romania’s head coach. “We wanted to rest some key players who had played the most minutes so far but we still wanted to win, as we wanted to advance to the placement matches from the top position.

“We are aware that we will face two tough matches in the following days, and we will give our best to win.”

Croatia lost a four-goal half-time lead to go down 23:22 against Sweden, who had Hannah Scheuer Larsson to thank as her nine goals downed the Croatian side, who were finished off by Olivia Löfqvist who converted a penalty throw in the last seconds for her Swedish side.

Group 2 had a battle of the Iberians as Spain came out on top against Portugal 29:22 (15:13). Diana Oliveira again top-scored for the Portuguese (8 goals) but it was not enough despite Spanish goalkeeper Carmen Sanz Ledo being disqualified early in the second half.

Lidija Civic’s 11 goals were exactly half of her Serbia side’s total of 22 goals but it was nowhere near enough to get anything from a host nation intent on ending their home tournament on a positive note, which they are doing, as Slovenia ran out 29:22 winners. Civic can have some small consolation in the fact that her goals in this match put her onto 37 strikes in total, making her the tournament top-scorer.

“We were well-prepared and got off to a good start,” said Bojan Voglar, Slovenia’s head coach. “When we were preparing for the match they promised to give their all, and they kept their promise.”

Today is a rest day, and tomorrow will see both semi-finals take place as well as the first round of 5-16 placement matches.

The full playing schedule can be found HERE and all games are free and live on ehfTV.com.

Photos: Slavko Kolar/Jurij Kodrun/Slovenia 2017


TEXT: EHF/amc
 
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