After Russia and France had clinched their EHF EURO 2014 berths on Sunday, Austria and Denmark made huge steps towards the final tournaments. Both teams have six points on their accounts and top Group 1 in convincing fashion, four points ahead third ranked Ukraine.
Group 1: Austria vs. Lithuania 32:22 (19:11)
First leg: 31:28
Thanks to its second win over Lithuania within three days the Austrian women remain on course for the EHF EURO 2014.
In contrast to the first leg in Lithuania the home game was a clear affair for the team of head coach Herbert Müller. “I am very satisfied, but those four points against Lithuania were a must for us. We are happy with the outcome of this double-header. Denmark can do whatever they want, we need to focus to reach at least a draw at Ukraine,” Müller said.
After Beate Scheffknecht had been the match winner in the first leg by scoring twelve goals, goalkeeper Petra Blazek was the key to success on home court.
Her saves backed the Austrian defence right from the start and when they led by eight goals at the break, even a huge rotation which brought younger players on the court did not threaten the clear success in the end.
Since the World Championship 2009 Austria have qualified for a major tournament, now a berth at the EHF EURO 2014 beckons, while the pointless Lithuania are out of the race for the final tournament.
Scheffknecht added nine goals to her tally and now leads the qualification's top scorer list with 38 strikes.
Group 1: Denmark vs. Ukraine 28:26 (17:11)
Denmark are continuing their victorious campaign and are close to qualifying for the EHF EURO: By winning their third straight match in this qualification, the World Championship 2013 bronze medallist are near to book their ticket, while Ukraine remain on two points.
Both teams faced for the first time in this week, as due to the political situation the match in Ukraine had been postponed to June.
The Danes had a brilliant start in Kolding, nearly demolishing their opponent by a 10:2 series after only 15 minutes. But nearly being out of the match completely, forced the guest team to change their rhythm and their style in attack.
However, the backlog was six goals at the break, and Denmark seemed to look ahead to a reasonably easy-going evening.
When Mette Gravhold stroke and made it 19:12 the deal seemed to be clearly sealed. But Ukraine never gave up, fought for every centimetre of court space.
After the Danish advantage had melted to only three goals, the hosts again took the match more seriously and decided the encounter at 28:24 five minutes before the end. Ukraine came close to two goals at the final buzzer, but had been beaten already before.
Top scorers were Line Jörgensen (Denmark) with six goals and Iulija Managarova and Iryna Glibko with five goals each for Ukraine.