Dutch cruise towards the semi-final continues

MATCH REVIEW: Netherlands beat Slovakia 30:20 at the main round in Zagreb to top the table of Group II

Photo: Stephane Pillaud

Four teams from Main Round Group II are still in the race for the two semi-final spots available after the first round of matches came to an end in the Arena Zagreb on Sunday night.

And after a well-deserved 30:20 (17:10) win against Slovakia on Sunday Netherlands top the group with five points together with Sweden who are also on five points.

France and Montenegro rank behind the two with both teams having four points on their accounts which makes it likely that the final decision will only be made on Wednesday when the last three matches in this group are being played.

Germany and Slovakia are out of contention for the final weekend in Budapest.

Slovakia kept up with Netherlands for the first ten minutes, but an unfortunate head injury sustained by left wing Lucia Sukennikova was the beginning of a downswing that left Slovakia goalless for almost 12 minutes.

Netherlands scored five unanswered goals, punishing all of Slovakia's mistakes by swift counter attack goals or by hammering the ball in the net from the back court.

"We knew we have to play well against Slovakia. They have the strength to fight and comeback even after being behind with ten goals," said line player Yvette Broch.

"We knew their game, we had to fight and play until the end – until the very last second literally."

Slovakia's hopes of springing another surprise after they had beaten World Championship runners-up Serbia on Friday were shattered early into the match.

The game was virtually decided already at the break when the score stood at 17:10 in favour of Netherlands.

Despite the fact that Slovakia's best scorer to date at this tournament, Lydia Jakubisova, added another five goals to her tally already in the first 30 minutes, she was overtaken this time by teammate Martina Skolkova who scored six goals and was also awarded best player of her team.

The Dutch side was in particular backed by the saves of goalkeeper Tess Wester, and head coach Henk Groener was also able to grant some of his key players some time off court which could prove valuable when Netherlands face Montenegro on Tuesday and France on Wednesday.

At the beginning of the second half Netherlands extended their lead to eight goals, while Slovakia showed signs of an early resignation.

Estevana Polman, who was eventually awarded best player and also her team's top scorer with seven goals, brought the gap for the first time to double figures at 22:12 in the 43rd minute - a lead which they kept until the end of the game.

written by Björn Pazen / ts


Photo Story: Polish Team