07/04/2014

France and Russia advance to the EHF EURO

ROUND REVIEW: Tickets No. 2 and 3 for the final tournament in Hungary and Croatia were “handed over” on Saturday

Photo: EHF

After Norway did it on Wednesday, France and Russia clinched their berth for the final tournament of the EHF EURO 2014 in Hungary and Croatia on Saturday.

Furthermore Slovakia made a huge step towards the event by winning against Finland, while Turkey beat Italy for the second time in a row.

Group 2: Slovakia  vs. Finland  38:17 (17:7)
First leg: 27:25

This match in no part whatsoever was like the first leg: Woth all court players scoring, Slovakia won a one-sided encounter against Finland and kept their hopes for the EHF EURO 2014 alive.

With the second victory against Finland bagged, Slovakia are now four points ahead of Iceland and pushed the gate to Hungary and Croatia open.

While the match on Wednesday was nearly on eye level, the re-match was already decided at the break, when the Slovaks were away by ten goals or even earlier when the score was 9:2.

In the second half the hosts started rotating, but still increased the gap to eventually 21 goals.

Best scorers became Petra Benuskova with seven goals for Slovakia and von Numers and Genberg with four goals each for the Finnish team that remains on zero points after four matches have been played.

Group 2: France vs. Iceland 24:19 (10:13)
First leg: 27:21

A clear improvement after the break secured the EHF EURO berth for France.

With a clean record of four wins, France top Group 2, while Iceland remain on two points – and need to win both remaining match to secure the ticket to Hungary and Croatia.

After the clear home defeat they conceded on Wednesday, Iceland played a remarkable first half in Limoges, shocking the hosts with a three-goal lead after 30 minutes. Led by Karen Knutsdottir, they forged ahead from 4:4 to 10:7 and kept this distance until the break.

And the match remained fully equal until the score of 17:17 in the 40th minute, before France improved both in defence and attack to break the resistance with a 7:1 series to make it 24:18, which sealed the deal and booked them the EHF EURO ticket.

Best scorers became Gnonsiame Niombla (France) and Knutsdottir (Iceland) with eight goals each.

Group 4: Turkey vs. Italy 23:21 (10:9)
First leg: 22:21

Thanks to eight goals of Yeliz Özel, Turkey kept their hopes alive. Thanks to the second close win against Italy the Turkish side still can dream of their first EHF EURO participation, as they have four points on their account.

Like in the first leg (22:21), the re-match was on the edge for the entire 60 minutes. Despite the home advantage Turkey could not cast off their opponents, for whom Annika Niederwieser was the top scorer with six goals.

The first half was fully equal and ended with the hosts leading by only one goal. In the 48th minute Turkey were ahead by three goals for the first time at 19:16, but nothing was decided, as Italy again equalised at 20:20.

Finally a double-strike executed by Özel and Gülsüm Gülecyoz secured the win over the bravely fighting Italians.

Group 7: FYR Macedonia vs. Russia 24:31 (9:18)
First leg: 23:36

Three wins in four matches gave Russia the ticket to the EHF EURO.

After beating FYR Macedonia for the second time within four days, Russia clinched their berth for the final tournament.

Like in the first leg, the re-match in Skopje was decided quite early, as the Russians overran their opponents already in the early stages leading by 9:2, 12:4 and eventually 18:9 at the break.

The rejuvenated Macedonian team did not give up even though the match was decided.

Thanks to a brilliant start in the second half the host reduced the score to only 21:23 and were close to turn the match around. But when the Russians forged ahead to 26:22 the deal was sealed.

Best scorers were Elena Gjeorgijevska with seven goals for the hosts and Olga Chernoivanenko with six goals.

written by Björn Pazen / ts

Photos

Group D: Montenegro vs. France