Away goals send Belarus to France
A late penalty goal from Shiarhei Rutenka secured Belarus a ticket for the World Championship in France due to more away goals against Latvia, as the first four teams made it to the final tournament.
A 28:26 win was not enough for Latvia, while Norway were reaching out for the final tournament several times at home against Slovenia, but the Norwegians never managed to catch up completely with the Slovenian six-goal lead after the first leg.
Russia had no trouble away against Montenegro who were defeated 29:19, while the Netherlands pulled a surprise by defeating Poland 25:24, but still remained out of reach due to their their six-goal deficit from the first match.
Men’s World Championship Europe play-off second leg
Montenegro vs Russia 19:29 (9:15) (41:58 agg.)
Russia never really needed to rely on their seven-goal lead they had from the first match at home.
In the return match, they put an end to all doubts from early on.
Already after eight minutes and 17 seconds the Montenegrin coach Obradovic called his first timeout, at a point, where his team was already down 5:3.
The timeout did not help, as Russia increased to 9:5 soon after.
Montenegro did manage to get back into the game shortly at 9:9, but that was the only comeback they were able to make in the match.
Through six goals in a row, the Russians won the first half by six and continued to increase their lead throughout the last 30 minutes to finally win by 10 and by 17 on aggregate.
Latvia vs Belarus 28:26 (16:14) (52:52) Belarus win on away goals
A penalty goal from Siarhei Rutenka with five seconds left secured Belarus their second World Championship berth in succession.
However, it was only on away goals, the Belarusians came back in a match in which Latvia were leading by four goals several times.
As the match progressed, it became clear that Latvia would need at least a three-goal win in order to book their first ticket for a major tournament ever, as they only managed to score 24 goals in the first match away.
The home team was reaching out for the great triumph many times, leading by three or four goals through large parts of the match.
In the end, however, Rutenka’s penalty goal turned out to be the deciding goal, and not even 14 goals from Dainis Kristopans were enough for Latvia.
In fact, it was Kristopans who missed the last chance to decide the match in his country’s favour, as he missed the last shot in the final seconds.
Norway vs Slovenia 29:27 (15:13) (47:51 agg.)
Norway have not exactly been successful after reaching the semi-final of the EHF EURO 2016 in Poland in January.
First, the Norwegians failed to qualify for the Olympics, and Wednesday night, the Scandinavians had to realise that they are going to miss the World Championship for the second time in succession.
Apart from a Slovenian 2:1 lead at the beginning, Norway were leading all the way and several times by five goals, but they never reached the seven-goal lead they needed - after only scoring 18 goals away in the first match.
Every time the Slovenians increased the pace, the hosts seemed to get in trouble and they had problems keeping their lead.
Still, a 29:24 lead gave the Norwegians and the 5000 spectators in a full DNB Arena in Stavanger hope, but three Slovenian goals in a row soon extinguished that hope, and as Sander Sagosen missed a shot with a minute and 42 seconds left, the matter was decided, and Slovenia celebrated their World Championship berth.
Netherlands vs Poland 25:24 (10:13) (46:51 agg.)
The Netherlands managed to pull off a surprise by winning the second leg, but the Dutchmen were never near catching up with Poland’s six-goal lead from the first match.
It took the Netherlands nine minutes and 41 seconds to score their first goal in the match in Sittard, and Poland made use of this slow start from the hosts to go ahead 3:0.
Still, the Netherlands managed to keep large parts of the first half equal before having to let go again shortly before half time.
In the second half, Poland increased their lead to 20:14, but still, the home team managed to come back, changing a 21:17 deficit into a 23:21 lead.
For the rest of the match, the Netherlands were constantly leading by a goal or two, but their dominance came far too late to create any doubt about the total result.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / bc