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16.06.2019, 21:14
Poland, Switzerland, Serbia, Iceland take last tickets in groups 1 to 3
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QUALIFICATION REVIEW 1: Serbia beat Switzerland, but both teams celebrate; Poland turn the tide against Israel and Iceland leave no doubt
 

Poland, Switzerland, Serbia, Iceland take last tickets in groups 1 to 3

With all 16 final qualifiers being played exactly at the same time, the buzz was huge on Sunday night – in particular for Serbia.

Their home match against Switzerland was the last one to end, and their buzzer-beating goal for 32:31 made the EHF EURO 2012 silver medallists jump for joy. As one of the four best third ranked teams, Serbia booked their ticket as well as their second ranked opponent.

Poland had a tough nut to crack, before the deal against Israel was sealed, while Iceland enjoyed a relatively easy-going match against Turkey.

Belgium, who lost their final EHF EURO 2020 Qualifier 28:19 to Croatia, have to play the relegation round as one of the three worst fourth ranked teams.

Group 1:

Germany vs Kosovo 28:17 (16:5)

Just like in the qualification for EHF EURO 2018 in Croatia, Germany won all six matches and extended their winning streak to 14 victories in EHF EURO qualifiers in a row. Kosovo finished at the bottom of the ranking, but can be extremely proud with the three points they gained in this campaign. Top scorer in a one-sided match was Johannes Golla with six goals for Germany, who are the only team with the maximum of 12 points from the EHF EURO 2020 Qualifiers.

Poland vs Israel 26:23 (10:11)

It was a tough piece of work until Poland had clinched their qualification for EHF EURO 2020. For more than 40 minutes, Israel were in the lead and would have been part of the 2020 final tournament, but then the hosts turned the tide and took revenge for the 24:25 defeat in the first leg.

Israel were ahead most of the time until the score stood at 15:14 early in the second half, then three unanswered Polish goals turned the match around. Until the score of 20:20, the away team was on an equal level, then a Polish 4:1 run dedcided the thrilling match.

Israel missed a spot at the final tournament as one of the best third ranked teams because of their weak goal difference (-33) accumulated in the matches against Germany and Poland.

Group 2:

Serbia vs Switzerland 32:31 (19:17)

After the 24:29 defeat against Switzerland in the first leg back in October 2018, Serbia needed to win to book their EHF EURO ticket – any victory would have been enough to finish among the four best third ranked teams, but beating Switzerland by more than five goals would have granted the hosts the second position in group 2.

But this lead never came true in the entire 60 minutes. On two occasions Serbia were ahead by five goals, but in a thrilling end to the match their advantage melted goal by goal.

The deal seemed to be sealed for Serbia at 29:24 with 12 minutes left to play, but Switzerland produced a great comeback, levelling the result at 29:29 and even taking the lead at 31:30 three minutes before the end.

But because Serbia scored the last two goals, they booked their sixth ticket for an EHF EURO. On the other hand, team captain Andy Schmid steered Switzerland to their first final tournament since 2006, when Switzerland were the hosts.

Croatia vs Belgium 28:19 (15:9)

Croatia finished the EHF EURO 2020 Qualifiers in unbeaten fashion with five wins and one draw, while Belgium remain at the bottom and have to play the relegation round for the EHF EURO 2022 Qualifiers.

The hosts started in ’express mode’ and forged ahead to an early 8:3 lead. The deal was already sealed at the break, when the gap stood at six goals. Luka Mrvakovcic and David Mandic were Croatian top scorers with five goals each.

Group 3:

Iceland vs Turkey 32:22 (13:10)

Even a defeat with eleven goals difference would have been enough for Iceland, but they wanted to finish their qualification campaign on a high on home court.

After their lucky draw against Greece in Round 5, Iceland were in full control of the match and finished their group ranked second behind North Macedonia. The EHF EURO 2010 bronze medallists are part of their eleventh EHF EURO final tournament in a row since 2000, also thanks to eleven goals from left wing Bjarki Elisson. Turkey remained on third position in group 3.

North Macedonia vs Greece 27:23 (13:11)

The hosts had quite a shaky start, and for some time Greece could hope for their second victory against North Macedonia after they had beaten them 28:26 in the first leg.

A win would have granted Greece third position in the group and a ticket to EHF EURO with then five points against Iceland and North Macedonian.

But after being down 5:8, the already qualified hosts took the match more seriously, turned it around even before the break and eventually decided this duel with four goals in a row to make it 23:17 with only ten minutes left to play.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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