Sweden and Russia close to World Championship tickets
After beginning the second day of first-leg play-off matches with a 27:19 win at home against Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sweden are very close to the World Championship 2017 in France next January.
Russia are also in a good position, having won 29:22 against Montenegro, but the situation is considerably more open after the first leg between Belarus and Latvia, which Belarus won 26:24.
Men’s World Championship 2017 Qualification Europe – First-leg play-offs
Sweden vs Bosnia-Herzegovina 27:19 (12:9)
Sweden were missing right back Kim Andersson, right wing Niclas Ekberg, left back Lukas Nilsson and left wing Jonas Källman due to injury, but this did not stop the Scandinavian team from winning clearly in front of 8,523 spectators in a full Vida Arena in Växjö on Sunday afternoon.
Bosnia-Herzegovina kept the game equal for nearly the first quarter of an hour, before six Swedish goals in succession changed a 6:5 lead for the guests to an 11:6 advantage for Sweden.
With three goals in a row the visitors narrowed the deficit to 9:11, but when Sweden retained a three-goal lead at half time, they were in a strong position to increase their advantage again.
The home side’s biggest lead as the half progressed was 10 goals, with a score of 24:14. Though the Bosnians were able to reduce the gap a little again toward the end, Sweden created an edge ahead of the second leg in Sarajevo on Wednesday.
“Of course, I am content that we won by eight goals,” said Sweden coach Staffan Olsson. ““We missed some opportunities which allowed them to score some goals, but we came back with great counter attacks, especially in the second half.”
Wings Fredrik Petersen and Mattias Zachrisson scored six goals each for Sweden, while left back Nikola Prce scored nine for Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Russia vs Montenegro 29:22 (13:9)
Russia are well on their way to the final tournament after Sunday afternoon’s clear win in Moscow.
The game was equal for great parts of the first half, but as half-time drew nearer the Russians created a substantial distance.
After leading 13:9 at the break the hosts increased their lead to seven goals at 17:10 early in the second half.
Montenegro closed the difference to four goals a couple of times, but that was as close as they came. In the last minutes of the game Russia increased their lead again, and now take a reassuring seven-goal advantage with them to the return match on Wednesday.
Right back Sergey Shelmenko scored seven goals on 12 attempts for Russia, the same number as centre back Vasko Sevaljevic scored for Montenegro, from the same number of shots.
Belarus vs Latvia 26:24 (13:13)
Despite losing the match by letting Belarus score two goals in the last minute, Latvia may still hope to qualify for the final tournament – two goals are not a many to overcome when they play the return fixture at home on Wednesday.
Belarus were in control from the start of the first leg in Minsk, soon moving ahead to 5:2 and re-establishing the three-goal lead several times through the half.
Still, Latvia came back and equalised by half-time, and created their first advantage in the match at 15:14 just three minutes into the second period.
Belarus reclaimed the lead but were unable to create a difference bigger than two goals, and Latvia caught up time after time.
With a minute left the score was level at 24:24, before the hosts decided the match with two late goals. The question now is whether the two-goal lead will be enough for Belarus when they play in Valmiera on Wednesday.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / cg