Spain first in Group A to make it to main round

MATCH REVIEW: Tuesday’s first Group A match ended with a 25:24 victory to Spain, who have now qualified for the main round and leave Russia to determine their fate on Thursday

Photo: Uros Hocevar

Tuesday's Women's EHF EURO 2014 Group A match between Russia and Spain was a challenging game for both sides, which ultimately saw Spain come out on top with a 25:24 victory - and therefore a berth in the main round.

"Today and tomorrow it's time to enjoy and then we need to start thinking about the match against Hungary," said Spain's goalkeeper Silvia Navarro.

"I don't want to think about the next round yet, the first step is Hungary. We are going to win the match."

It was clear from the first whistle that Russia were aiming for a calm start to the match.

Their quick return to defence and patient attack meant there were no counter attacks at all until Alexandrina Cabral stole a Russian pass in the tenth minute, converting to an easy goal that put the Spaniards two goals ahead at 6:4.

Russia's controlled attack and a flat 6-0 defence forced many errors from their opponents that allowed them to level the score in the 14th minute (7:7).

Though the score line was even through most of the first half, Russia were in command, seeming to have no trouble at all forcing the Spanish game to a much slower pace than the usual speed of the 'Guerreras'.

Most goals in the first period came from positional attack, which suited the Russians and kept the dangerous Spanish counter attack out of the game.

As the last ten minutes of the half began, Russia became a wall the Spanish offence were unable to get through.

Blocked shots and saves from goalkeeper and captain Maria Sidorova kept Spain scoreless for five minutes, allowing Russia to take a three-goal lead (13:10) by the 25th minute.

But Spain came back and a spectacular in-flight goal for Spain from captain Marta Mangue took the score to 14:13 in favour of Russia just before the half-time whistle.

Spain returned more like themselves in the second half, speeding up the pace of the game as Russia fought to slow it again.

It was Mangue who levelled the score at 16:16 in the 37th minute, with a penalty goal from Carmen Martin following quickly to allow the Guerreras to take the lead.

By midway through the half Spain looked to be the dominant side with a two-goal lead at 20:18.

Both goalkeepers were having excellent games, keeping many of the players' shot percentages unusually low. Spain's Silvia Navarro finished on 32 %, while Sidorova ended on 37 %.

"The defence was wonderful, spectacular at times. It was the key of the match. I always say that if the defence is good, it's easy for the goalkeeper," Navarro said.

As the minutes ticked down Spain maintained their lead, finishing the match with a 25:24 win.

Spain are now the first team of Group A through to the main round.

written by Courtney Gahan / ts


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