Clear wins put Finland and Georgia in driving seat
Finland and Georgia started their qualifying campaigns for the IHF Men's World Championship 2023 with big wins in Vantaa, Finland, on Friday, positioning themselves for the top-two spots in group 2.
Finland's battle with Estonia was close for most of the match until the hosts, led by left wing Benjamin Helander's 11 goals, pulled away in the closing stages for a clear 35:30 victory.
Georgia never were in trouble against Great Britain, who returned to World Championship qualifying after a decade, converting an eight-goal half-time lead into a 32:26 win.
Finland and Georgia go head-to-head on Saturday (live on EHFTV at 15:00 CET) with the top spot in the group at stake.
- Finland were not behind once in the entire match, but struggled to shrug off Estonia as their lead was never more than three goals in the first half
- the teams were still locked at 19:19 after six minutes into the second half before three straight goals from left wing Benjamin Helander gave Finland the edge
- Estonia got back to just one behind for a final time when Kaspar Lees netted for 28:27 with 10 minutes left, but Finland dominated the last part of the match again
- Helander was Finland's hero as the Rhein-Neckar Löwen wing ended on 11 goals; Max Granlund followed with seven for Finland and Karl Toom had six for Estonia
- Sebastien Edgar and David Klaening put Great Britain 2:0 up in the first 80 seconds and the underdogs remained in the lead until the ninth minute, 5:4
- however, a 6:0 run for Georgia dashed the British hopes as the 2021 Challenge Trophy champions soared ahead to an advantage of eight at the break
- the margin reached a double-digit figure for the first time in the 46th minute (27:17), before Great Britain reduced the deficit and ended the match on a 5:2 run
- British left wing David Klaening was the best scorer with seven, while Revaz Chanturia netted six times for Georgia - with all his goals coming in the first half