REVIEW: Draws in their respective second leg play-offs were enough for Spain and Montenegro to reach the Women's World Championship, while Poland made it all clear with another convincing win against Ukraine
Spain, Poland and Montenegro all set for Denmark 2015
Draws in the second leg of the play-offs were more than enough for Spain and Montenegro to reach the Women's World Championship 2015, after they had carved out comfortable leads already in their first leg matches against Slovakia and Iceland respectively last week.
Poland had also recorded a clear win in their first match against Ukraine, but that did not stop them to win again on Sunday.
Slovakia vs Spain 20:20 (9:12) / First leg 19:25 (Aggregate score: 39:45)
The support of 2,500 spectators in the Mestská Sportova hala in Sala did not help Slovakia to catch up with Spain's six goal lead from the first match.
Nevertheless the home team managed to hold the EHF EURO 2014 silver medalists to a draw after a fine performance in the second half.
At the start, however, Spain seemed to be heading for another clear win, as they forged ahead to 4:1, 6:2 and 10:4 leads.
Even though the home team reduced the deficit to 9:12 at half-time, nothing indicated a Slovakian comeback.
Early in the second half though, five goals in a row from the home team changed a 13:9 lead for Spain into a Slovakian 14:13 lead.
However, a win eluded the hosts and while they had to be satisfied with a draw, the Spanish squad celebrated their ticket to the World Championship in December.
Lydia Jakubisova, Martina Skolkova and Tetyana Trehubova all scored four goals for Slovakia, while Spain had their top scorer in Nerea Abaurrea who also scored four.
Poland vs Ukraine 30:22 (17:9) / First leg 18:24 (Aggregate score 54:40)
Poland had no troubles securing their World Championship berth, as they followed up on their six-goal away win against Ukraine with an ever clearer win on home court.
After Ukraine had scored the first goal, the 3,000 spectators in the Azoty Arena of Szczecin saw the home team take ownership of the match in a hurry, getting ahead 4:1, 6:2, 9:3 and 14:6 before 'winning' the first half by eight goals, 17:9.
In the second half, the Poles continued to increase the gap and when it was at its highest the distance was 11 goals – before Ukraine slightly reduced it towards the end.
Malgorzata Stasiak was the top coring player for Poland with five goals, while Olha Nikolayenko's seven goals did not help Ukraine much.
Iceland vs Montenegro 19:19 (10:11) / First leg 19:28 (Aggregate score 38:47)
In the first leg between the two teams one week ago, Iceland shocked Montenegro at the start by getting six goals up already in the first half.
The Montenegrins came back already before half-time though, and in the last 30 minutes they secured a nine-goal wine they took with them to Reykjavik.
Nevertheless head coach Dragan Adzic and his players were determined not to run into a similar shock start in the return match, and even though Iceland led 8:5 and 9:6 in the first half, Montenegro were never threatened to lose the match on aggregate.
By half-time, Montenegro had not only caught up but even taken a one-goal lead at 11:10.
In the second half, Montenegro seemed to be heading for a clear a win as they got up to 15:12 in a hurry.
However, the home team caught up again and even enjoyed a couple of one-goal leads, before it all ended in a draw which was more than enough for Montenegro to secure their World Championship berth.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
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