SUNDAY REVIEW 2: Slovenia stun Hungary, and Bosnia and Herzegovina hold on to a 29:29 draw against Iceland when the final three European play-offs for the World Championship 2015 in Qatar were played
Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia book the last three tickets for Qatar 2015
On Sunday evening Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and FYR Macedonia booked the last three European tickets for the 2015 World Championship in Qatar.
The three teams clinched the World Championship berths in quite different ways, as two of the matches were pretty dramatic.
Having brought a three-goal lead from the first match with them from the first leg, Hungary seemed to be heading for the World Championship against Slovenia, but through an irresistible finish the Slovenians grabbed the tickets with a 32:26 win.
There was even more drama in Reykjavik, where Bosnia and Herzegovina’s one-goal win from their home game against Iceland proved to be just enough for their first World Championship ticket after a 29:29 draw in the Icelandic capital.
There was no doubt about the outcome in the last match, though. Being two goals up after the away match, FYR Macedonian confidently beat Greece 35:23 on home court.
Slovenia vs Hungary 32:26 (13:16) / First leg 22:25 - aggregate score: 54:51
Through an astonishing finish, in which they scored six unanswered goals in the final six minutes, Slovenia qualified for the World Championship with a 32:26 win at home against Hungary.
At the beginning nothing indicated a dramatic finish, not to mention an overall win for Slovenia.
Hungary had the far better start in Velenje and virtually doubled their three-goal lead from the first match, as they got ahead 3:0 and 4:1.
And even though Slovenia equalised at 4:4, Hungary soon took the lead again, and the visitors even got four goals up at 10:6.
For the rest of the first half, Hungary were almost constantly leading by three goals which was also the distance at half-time (13:16).
At the beginning of the second half, the Hungarians maintained their three-goal lead, but when Dragan Gajic equalized at 20:20 seven minutes and 56 seconds after the break, it turned out to be the match’s turning point.
Less than four minutes later Gajic gave Slovenia their first lead at 26:25.
Hungary scored one more time, but the last six minutes belonged to the hosts, as Slovenia decided the matter with six unanswered goals which led to the 32:26 win.
Gajic did not only play a deciding role in turning the game in the favour of Slovenia. The right wing from Montpellier HB Agglomeration also became the top scorer of the match with nine goals, while Laszlo Nagy scored six times fo
Iceland vs. Bosnia Herzegovina 29:29 (10:15) / First leg 32:33 – aggregate score: 61:62
After a highly dramatic finish in the Laugardalshöll in Reykjavik, Bosnia and Herzegovina qualified for the World Championship courtesy of the one-goal lead they had brought with them from their 33:32 win at home last weekend.
Just like in the first match, Iceland were missing injured playmaker Aaron Palmarsson, and the team had huge trouble for the first 45 minutes when the visitors were leading all the time.
Bosnia and Herzegovina took the lead from the start, and several times in the first half they led by four goals.
At half-time, the Bosnian team led by five, and at the start of the second half they even increased the gap to a six-goal lead at 16:10, and the matter seemed to be more or less decided already.
However, the hosts got back into the game and with a quarter of an hour left, Arnor Atlason equalised for Iceland at 22:22.
Soon afterwards Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson even gave Iceland their first lead at 23:22, and in the following minutes the home team led by one goal several times – a result that would have been enough for them at that point because of the away goals rule.
However, Bosnia and Herzegovina regained the lead at 28:27, and with a little more than two minutes left, things were working the Bosnian way.
Although Sigurdsson equalised at 28:28, Ivan Karacic gave the guests the lead again, and Asgeir Örn Hallgrimsson's 29:29 equaliser came too late for Iceland - Bosnia and Herzegovina had booked their first World Championship tickets in the nation’s history.
Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson was Iceland’s top scorer with eight goals. Nikola Prce scored seven times for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
FYR Macedonia vs Greece 35:23 (19:9) / First leg 27:25 - aggregate score: 62:48
The Boris Trajkovski is a tough arena to play in for any away team.
Many a European club side has had to realise this fact when visiting the arena in Skopje for a VELUX EHF Champions League match, and on Sunday night, the Greek national team had the same experience.
Being two goals down already after their home match against FYR Macedonia, Greece were under pressure already before the first whistle in Skopje, and as soon as the match had started, they were never even close to produce the sensation it would have been, if they had sent out FYR Macedonia and qualified for Qatar.
The home team left no one in doubt, which team would eventually have the upper hand. Very quickly they forged ahead to 8:2, and soon they increased this lead to 13:3 and 19:8.
After a ten goal lead at half time, FYR Macedonia continued in convincing style in the last 30 minutes and temporarily enjoyed a 14-goal lead before finally winning by 12 (35:23).
TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
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