Four more teams ready for France
It did not take FYR Macedonia long to catch up to the Czech Republic’s six-goal lead from the first leg, but still, the Macedonians had to worry a bit at the end of the second match before booking a one-goal aggregate win.
Hungary had no problems adding a 30:25 win at home against Serbia to their 26:25 win from the away game, while a 27:27 draw away against Bosnia Herzegovina was more than enough for Sweden to book a ticket for France.
Denmark had no problems in their away game against Austria who were defeated 23:20 on top of the Danish 35:27 home win from the first leg.
FYR Macedonia vs Czech Republic 34:27 (18:10) (56:55 agg.)
Trailing by a six-goal deficit from the first match seemed to be no problem for the Macedonians who started the return match by steamrolling their opponents.
It did not take Macedonia much more than a quarter of an hour to catch up with the Czech six-goal lead, and already in the first half the home team led by nine goals.
That lead was increased to 11 goals in the second half, but the Czechs managed to climb a bit closer towards the end, and as Jan Stehlik reduced the gap to 32:25 with one minute and 16 seconds left, things turned into a nail-biter in the Boris Trajkovski in Skopje, as the difference over two legs was now only goal.
However, the hosts managed to fight off the Czech attacks and win the match by seven and the tie by one.
6,963 spectators saw left wing Dejan Manaskov score no less than 11 goals for Macedonia.
Hungary vs Serbia 30:25 (17:12) (56:50 agg.)
Hungary had a one-goal lead with them from the away game, but they could have made their work this Wednesday night considerably easier, had not lost an eight-goal lead in Serbia last Friday.
Still, the Hungarians never got into real trouble in front of 5,019 spectators in the Veszprém Arena.
Hungary soon took a clear lead, and unlike the match on Friday, they did not throw it away this time.
Already at half-time, the Hungarian lead was five goals, and the home team increased the gap to seven goals after the break before winning by five and by six on aggregate.
Centre back Mate Lekai scored nine goals for Hungary, while left back Petar Nenadic scored one less for Serbia.
Bosnia Herzegovina vs Sweden 27:27 (14:16) (46:54 agg.)
Being eight goals down after the first leg, the Bosnians really had their work cut out for them ahead of the match in Sarajevo Wednesday night.
However, the home team was never even close to clinching their second World Championship berth in succession.
Sweden opened the match in convincing style, going ahead 3:0 and 6:2, and even though the home team managed to catch up, Sweden still seemed to be in complete control at half-time, at which point they were leading by two goals.
In the second half, Bosnia managed to take the lead a few times, and even to went two goals up on a couple of occasions, but the hosts never came close at catching up with the Swedes.
Austria vs Denmark 20:23 (9:12) (47:58 agg.)
One of Austria’s most famous handball players ever, Viktor Szilagyi did not get a win in his last international for Austria.
Denmark had no problems in defending their eight-goal lead from the first leg and even increased it by three in the Albert Schultz Eishalle.
After an equal start, the Danes went four goals ahead before taking a three-goal lead with them to half-time.
Austria managed to equalise at 13:13 early in the second half, but the Danes soon managed to create a five-goal lead, even though their coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson made use of the opportunity to give court time to his entire bench.
In the end, then, the Danes celebrated their eighth World Championship berth in a row.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / bc