Romania win but Austria stay on top
The Men’s World Championship 2017 Qualification continued on Thursday with Romania defeating Austria, who remain in the prime position atop the group table despite the loss, and Ukraine winning against Cyprus.
Romania vs Austria 32:29 (15:15)
It seems nothing can separate Romania and Austria. In the first-leg match in November last year Austria won 27:24, and the return fixture on Thursday saw the same goal difference – only this time in Romania’s favour.
Though Austria took the lead early, holding a consistent 1-3 goal advantage during the first 25 minutes, Romania closed the gap just before half-time to take a level score line into the break.
Romania returned to the court with increased determination, and were rewarded when they quickly claimed the lead and kept it. With five minutes left the score was 31:27 for Romania, and it was clear Austria were in danger.
The visitors decreased the score line, with Thomas Kandolf scoring two goals in the closing minutes – his only two goals of the game – but it was too late and Romania held on to take the two points.
Though there were a few high scorers in the game, with Nikola Bilyk contributing nine goals for Austria and Ionut Ramba scoring seven for the home side, the prize for best shooter in this match has to go to Romania’s Marius Iulian Mocanu, who hit the back of the net seven times from seven shots.
As both teams have recorded three other wins on the path to the World Championship 2017, they are each on eight points and sit at the top of the table with Austria just in front based on away goals.
Therefore, though Romania took the win today, Austria are poised to claim the ticket to the next stage of qualification provided they win their final qualification phase match against Finland when they host the Scandinavian side on Sunday.
Ukraine vs Cyprus 31:19 (11:8)
With Group 3’s ticket to the next qualification phase already booked by Latvia with their draw against Greece on Wednesday evening, Ukraine and Cyprus took to the court with little to fight for but match experience and pride.
Ukraine enjoyed a comfortable win, increasing a three-goal lead at half-time to a decisive 12-goal advantage by the final whistle.
The top scorers of the match were Ukraine’s Andrii Akimenko and Oleksandr Tilte, who each contributed seven goals for the home side.
TEXT: Courtney Gahan