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07.01.2018, 18:44
Netherlands take back pole position, Switzerland seal second win
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DAY REVIEW: The Netherlands are back in the lead in Group 5 of qualification phase 1 for the 2019 IHF Men's World Championship, as Belgium keep their play-off hopes alive.
 

Netherlands take back pole position, Switzerland seal second win

The Netherlands took back the first place in qualification Group 1 with a seven-goal home win against Turkey on Sunday.

In the same group, Belgium made an impressive comeback to defeat Greece by two goals. Slovakia secured a clear win against Finland in Group 1 and Switzerland took their second win in four days against Estonia in Group 6.

Group 1: Slovakia vs Finland 24:16 (12:8)

Slovakia kept their hopes to reach the play-offs alive through a clear win in front of 1,300 spectators in Povazska Bystrica, but they are still two points adrift of Russia who are in pole position.

The Slovakians only had a bit of trouble for the first 20 minutes of the Sunday match against Finland.

After an equal start, Finland had their first and only lead in the match at 8:7, but with five goals in a row, Slovakia took control and secured a four-goal lead at half time.

After the break, the home team continued to increase their lead – first to 16:10 and then to 23:12, before the visitors were able to claw back some of the margin.

Slovakia will host Russia in a crucial match on Thursday. A Slovakian win of at least 10 goals will be needed in order to take over the first place, as Russia won the first match between the two teams 32:22.

Group 5: Netherlands vs Turkey 26:19 (12:12)

The Netherlands were not only chasing revenge for their 30:27 away defeat to the Turks on Thursday. They were also aiming to take back the crucial first place in the group, which they lost with that defeat.

They got the essential win, and through the seven-goal win, they also have the edge in the head-to-head with Turkey.

For much of the first half, there were few signs that the Dutch could win. After an equal start with changing one-goal leads, Turkey drew ahead to 11:6, but four straight goals from the home team soon reduced the distance to one goal again, and at half time, it was all-square.

After Turkey equalised an early Dutch 13:12 lead after the break, the hosts found their rhythm. From 17:15, five Dutch goals in a row took the score to 22:15, which decided the match.

Much to the joy of the 1,025 spectators in the Fitland XL arena in Sittard, the Netherlands took back the lead in Group 5. They now have six points after four matches, one point more than Turkey.

Greece vs Belgium 24:26 (14:9)

Like the Netherlands and Turkey, Belgium may also still hope to qualify for the play-offs, but for great parts of the match in Thessaloniki, it did not look like a Belgian win.

Greece dominated the first half completely and were leading by five goals at half time. However, an impressive comeback from Belgium secured a narrow win for the visitors.

Belgium now share second place in Group 5 with Turkey. Both teams are on five points, one point behind the Netherlands who are currently in pole position for the sole play-off spot.

Group 6: Switzerland vs Estonia 39:21 (19:10)

Switzerland went to the top of the group through their second win against Estonia in four days.

After winning 26:22 in Tallinn on Thursday, the Swiss won by a huge margin this time, leaving their opponents absolutely no chance to play a role in the game.

Switzerland opened the match in Winterthur with three unanswered goals in a row, and it did not take them long to increase that lead to 11:4. The home team went out at the break with a reassuring nine-goal lead.

Throughout the second half, Switzerland increased their lead more or less constantly, at one point being 19 goals ahead of Estonia.

Switzerland lead the group with four points after two matches, while Estonia and Bosnia Herzegovina are level with two points.


TEXT: Peter Bruun/jh
 
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