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09.06.2018, 22:50
Netherlands pull surprise while Norway, Croatia, Hungary have clear wins
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DAY REVIEW: The Dutch team upset Sweden 25:24 in the most remarkable result of Saturday’s action in the first leg of the Men’s World Championship 2019 Play-off
 

Netherlands pull surprise while Norway, Croatia, Hungary have clear wins

The Netherlands have never qualified for a major event so far but their hope to make it to the Men’s World Championship 2019 in Germany and Denmark is still alive.

The Dutch team earned an unexpected 25:24 win in Saturday’s first leg of their play-off tie against Sweden, which won silver at the EHF EURO 2018 just months ago.

Also, Croatia are virtually through after winning 32:19 at home against Montenegro, while Hungary (29:24 in Slovenia) and Norway (32:26 against Switzerland) are strong favourites to advance as well.

Netherlands vs Sweden 25:24 (13:12)

Being silver medallists at the latest EHF EURO five months ago is no guarantee for an easy journey to the World Championship the following year.

Sweden had to realise this Saturday afternoon in the Sportcentrum Maaspoort in ’s-Hertogenbosch, where the Netherlands - still dreaming of their debut at a major championship - earned their first win ever against the Scandinavians.

After Sweden got the better start and were leading 4:2, the first half belonged to the Netherlands, who got their first lead at 5:4.

The hosts remained in the lead, though they had a three-goal advantage (12:9) cut down to just one at the break (13:12).

In the second half, Sweden started stronger again and Albin Lagergren gave the visitors the lead once more at 16:15 - though that would be the last time that Sweden had their nose in front.

The Netherlands, however, didn’t make the lead bigger than one goal until Jasper Adams made it 24:22 with less than six minutes left.

When Kay Smits made it 25:23 in the closing minutes, the writing was on the wall for Sweden, though Jerry Tollbring reduced the deficit to just one (25:24) shortly before the buzzer.

Sweden will have to step up their game in the return match in Kristianstad on Wednesday.

Norway vs Switzerland 32:26 (19:11)

Having Rhein-Neckar Löwen star Andy Schmid as playmaker and VELUX EHF Champions League winner Nikola Portner from Montpellier HB in goal was far from enough for Switzerland to threaten Norway in Stavanger.

Sander Sagosen meant particularly bad news to the Swiss players: the PSG ace scored an impressive 10 goals from 10 attempts in the first 38 minutes.

Down by eight at half-time, Switzerland did well to reduce the gap to six in the second half, avoiding that the return match in Zug on Tuesday would become a formality.

In the first half, Norway went from 3:0 to 9:5, 11:6, 15:9 and ultimately 19:11 at the break. They went on increasing their lead in the second half, reaching their largest lead at 23:12.

However, the visitors slightly reduced the gap, and from 10 down (31:21) with six minutes left, they finished on six down (32:26).

“This only means that we will have to be keen in the second leg, and that is healthy for us,” Sander Sagosen told Norwegian TV2.

Croatia vs Montenegro 32:19 (17:10)

Croatia virtually booked the ticket for Denmark and Germany already tonight in Osijek, where Lino Cervar’s team did not seem to miss their injured playmaker Domagoj Duvnjak at all.

The first 20 minutes were in the balance as there were never more than two goals separating the teams. However, from 10:8 in the 21st minute, Croatia stepped up a gear and dominated the rest of the first half.

They quickly increased their lead to 15:9, and ultimately 17:10 at half-time.

Croatia continued to run over their opponents in the second half. The home team simply increased their lead steadily over the last 30 minutes.

Being 13 goals up, Croatia should not fear the return match in Podgorica on Thursday.

Slovenia vs Hungary 24:29 (14:13)

Laszlo Nagy was back once again for Hungary, which will be clear favourites for the return leg against Slovenia in Veszprém on Wednesday.

Hungary turned the tables in Koper on Saturday as they came back from a half-time deficit to take a clear win.

Slovenia sped into in 3:0 lead and remained three ahead for most of the first half. However, Ljubomir Vranjes’ team started to catch up near the end, even levelled the score (12:12) before going into the dressing rooms 14:13 down.

The match remained in the balance in the second half, and the score was still 23:23 with 13 minutes left. However, Slovenia then didn’t score for over 12 minutes, handing Hungary the perfect opportunity to run away with a 6:0 series (29:23) before the home team finally scored again shortly before the end.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ew
 
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