Under certain circumstances, Germany could have lost Wednesday’s match against the Czech Republic and still earn a main round berth, but they ultimately won and progressed to the next phase of EHF EURO 2018.
An injury to her left arm sidelined Czech Republic's Iveta Luzumova for most of the first half, and her absence surely hampered the team’s chances, as Jan Basny’s side exits the tournament after three losses in as many matches.
Germany vs Czech Republic 30:28 (16:16)
Returning from their worst defeat in the history of EHF EURO on Monday, 31:17 against Norway, the Czech Republic needed something special from Iveta Luzumova, their captain, to earn at least the right to hope for a main round berth.
The Thüringer HC playmaker duly delivered, lifting the Czech side in the first ten minutes, scoring five of their six goals to tie the game at 6:6.
It was a 5:0 run between the 11th and the 16th minute which brought life into the Czech side, as they jumped to a 10:6 lead.
But then Luzumova sustained a left arm injury – and Germany took advantage of her absence, embarking on their own 6:1 run.
At this stage, Germany relied heavily on left back Emily Bolk, as her five goals in the first half helped her team to tie the game at 16:16 after 30 minutes of play.
Luzumova eventually returned to court and the Czech side claimed back the lead after the break, but a flurry of turnovers from both teams – 20 in the first 40 minutes – saw the deadlock still intact, 19:19.
But as the Czech Republic started to lose their breath, Germany finally delivered.
A great defensive effort set up a 5:1 run that proved pivotal for the fate of the game, as Germany jumped to a 24:20 lead.
The defence against the line players was again the Czech Republic’s weakness, exactly like in the previous two matches, when they could not stop Crina Pintea and Heidi Loke.
This time it was Meike Schmelzer who made them pay, with a 100% shooting efficiency, scoring six goals from six shots.
There was nothing that a visibly tired Czech side could do to weather the storm, as they recorded the third defeat in a row, 30:28.
Germany will now move to Group II of the main round in Nancy, where they will join the Netherlands, Hungary, Spain, Romania and Norway. Henk Groener’s side will start the next phase with two points after their first round win against Norway.