REVIEW: Russia secured an important away win against Germany, while the EHF EURO 2014 silver and bronze medallists, Spain and Sweden, also recorded victories
Wins for Russia, Spain, France and Sweden see quartet edging closer to Denmark 2015
Spain and France lived up to their status as favourites as they won their home matches in the Women's World Championship Play-offs on Sunday in confident fashion.
EHF EURO 2014 silver medallists Spain defeated Slovakia 25:19, while France's 27:20 victory against Slovenia came in particular courtesy of a brilliant goalkeeping performance by Cleopatre Darleux.
Russia also have a good chance to qualify for the final tournament after beating Germany away 22:20; and the same holds true for Sweden, who staged a second half comeback to win 24:23 away against Croatia.
Spain vs Slovakia 25:19 (13:11)
Spain made an important step towards the World Championship courtesy of their 25:19 win in Las Palmas on Gran Canaria on Sunday.
However, it took the EHF EURO 2014 silver medallists some time to live up to the expectations.
Slovakia were leading by one or two goals for most of the first half, until Spain eventually got on the driver's seat and went into the half-time, leading 13:11.
This two-goal lead was doubled by Spain at the start of the second half, and when they went from 19:15 to 25:16 the home team seemed to be well on their way to an unassailable lead before the second leg has even started.
However, the last three goals of the match were all scored by Slovakia and the six-goal deficit still leaves them with some hope ahead of the return match on home court in Sala next Sunday.
Carmen Martin, Beatriz Fernandez and Alexandrina Barbos Cabral scored six goals each for Spain, while Slovakia had their top scorer player in Lydia Jakubisova who hit the back of the net five times.
Germany vs Russia 20:22 (8:10)
Russia, who missed the World Championship 2013, made a major step towards the final tournament in 2015 with their 22:20 win against Germany in the Anhalt Arena in Dessau.
At the start, the Russians seemed to steamroll their opponents as seven unanswered goals gave them an 8:2 lead.
Germany reduced the deficit to two goals at the break, and nine minutes into the second half Nadja Nagornaja even scored the equaliser at 14:14.
Russia answered by scoring three goals in a row, and even though Germany equalised again at 17:17, the visitors remained in control and now have the upper hand before playing Germany again in Astrakhan next Saturday.
Right back Anna Kochetova scored 11 goals for Russia, while centre back Kerstin Wohlbold scored four times for the hosts.
France vs Slovenia 27:20 (15:11)
France moved very close to the World Championship with their clear win in Brest on Sunday, but it took the team some time to live up to their status as favourites against a fighting and smart playing Slovenian team.
France looked as if they were heading towards an easy win in the first half, as the Slovenians were only able to follow them for the first 15 minutes when the score stood at 8:8.
From then on, France forged ahead to a four-goal lead at the half-time break. However, in the second half Slovenia came back and reduced to distance to just two goals.
In the last ten minutes France were again the better team, as they scored the last four goals of the match, going from 23:20 to the final result of 27:20.
Alexandra Lacrabere scored six goals for France, while Tamara Mavsar scored five times for Slovenia who will have a hard time catching up with the seven-goal deficit in Velenje next Saturday.
Croatia vs Sweden 23:24 (11:8)
Croatia were leading by three or four goals for most of the match in Koprivnica, but after a thrilling finish Sweden took home an important one-goal.
With less than seven minutes left, left wing Louise Sand at 20:20 equalised for Sweden for the first time.
With one minute and 53 seconds left, Sand gave the Swedes their first lead at 23:22. Andrea Penezic equalised with a penalty, but with 48 seconds left the versatile Jenny Alm scored the winning goal for the visitors.
It took the Swedes nearly eight minutes to score their first goal of the match. At that time, Croatia were already leading 3:0, and three or four-goal leads for the hosts were common for most of the match, including at half-time when the score was 11:8.
In the last minutes of the match, though, the visitors caught up and secured a narrow win.
Andrea Penezic scored six times for Croatia, Linnea Torstensson and Natalie Hagman five times each for Sweden.
The second leg takes place in Stockholm next Sunday.
Photos: Sascha Klahn/DHB
TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
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