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28.10.2018, 19:42
Greece take sensational derby win; Lithuania coach resigns
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QUALIFICATION REVIEW 2: Croatia, France and Portugal remain on top of their respective EHF EURO 2020 Qualifier tables following their second victories on Sunday evening.
 

Greece take sensational derby win; Lithuania coach resigns

While Greece sensationally took their first points in the Men’s EHF EURO 2020 Qualifiers, winning the derby against their neighbours FYR Macedonia in Group 3, France and Portugal each recorded their second victories in Group 6. After the narrow defeat against Portugal, the Lithuanian coach resigned from his position.

In Group 2, Croatia easily took both points available in Belgium.

GROUP 2
Belgium vs Croatia 25:30 (12:18)

Croatia remain on top of the table with the optimum of four points, while Belgium again stood strong – but, in contrast to their opening draw against Serbia, could not take a point. Like in their (victorious) opener versus Switzerland (31:28), the Croatians had problems in the beginning. But when team captain Zlatko Horvat, who scored seven of his eight goals before the break, started his motor, the deal was sealed early.

Though Belgium fought well, the six-goal deficit at the break was too much for the hosts to turn the tide – even though Croatia coach Lino Cervar started a huge rotation with young players.

GROUP 3
Greece vs FYR Macedonia 28:26 (12:13)

For the second time in the history, Greece have beaten their neighbours from FYR Macedonia in an official handball match. “When I warned my teammates of the next opponent after our victory against Turkey in Bitola on Wednesday, nobody listened to me. This was a catastrophe, a shame,” FYR Macedonia captain Kiril Lazarov told sports portal www.sportmedia.mk.

His side were the clear favourites, not only because of the results in the first round, when Greece lost 21:35 in Iceland.

The visitors had a great start but let their 5:0 advantage slip from their hands, while Greece improved, backed by their outstanding goalkeeper Konstantinos Tsilimparis. After the 13:12 lead at the break, FYR Macedonia seemed to be on the path to a win until minute 45 and the score of 22:19.

It was then that the host struck back, scoring three unanswered goals, as their neighbours had completely lost their rhythm and pace. Finally, the nine goals from Charalampos Mallios and the total of 14 saves by Tsilimparis paved the way to yet another sensation in the EHF EURO 2020 Qualifiers.

GROUP 6
Lithuania vs Portugal 23:24 (10:12)

Right after the defeat – the second in this qualification after the 27:42 loss France – Lithuania national team coach Arturas Juskenas resigned from his position. “The team needs new ideas. If we had won this game, I would have stayed. The team has still got the chance to qualify for the EURO 2020 – maybe another coach will do it better,” Juskenas is quoted on the website of the Lithuanian Federation.

Without their top star, Montpellier’s Champions League winner Jonas Truchanovicius, the Baltic side were behind until minute 35. The hosts turned the match around and took a 19:15 advantage into the last 13 minutes – but somehow, Portugal managed to change the momentum of the match again. Even the ninth goal from top scorer Aidenas Malasinskas, levelling the score, was not enough for the hosts – Portugal secured their second victory 80 seconds before the final buzzer.

After their first ever victory against Romania in round 1, it was the first Portuguese win over Lithuania, in their third attempt.

Romania vs France 21:31 (9:12)

Like their opener against Lithuania, the match in Romania was like a walk in the park for the defending world champions France. But the final result does not reflect the huge problems the Frenchmen had at the start: Backed by their fans and some incredible saves from goalkeeper Mihai Popescu (playing in France), Romania pulled ahead 5:1 and 7:3.

France then found their rhythm and turned the four-goal deficit into a 12:9 advantage at the break. Netting only six times between minute 31 and 45 was too little for the hosts to keep up with France. Therefore, the match was decided at the first double-figured distance, 16:26, in minute 46.

The top scorers were Nedim Remili and Raphael Caucheteux, with six each for France, and Javier Humet, with five for Romania.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg
 
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