After Denmark and Montenegro became the first teams to qualify for the Women’s EHF EURO 2018 in France on Saturday, no other participants were confirmed in Sunday’s first four matches.
Netherlands had the chance to do so, but failed in another thriller against Hungary, 23:22. Slovenia went back in the race by beating Iceland, while Belarus took their second and Turkey their first victory in this qualification.
Slovenia vs Iceland 28:18 (15:10)
The 30:30 draw in the first leg of this pairing can become costly for Slovenia. The team of Uros Bregar showed their true face on Sunday with a clear and dominant home victory against the Iceland.
Thanks to this result, Slovenia took the second position in this group behind already qualified Denmark. Czech Republic are now one point behind in third, with their direct encounter in the Czech Republic in the final round likely being the decider for the second qualification spot from this group. Iceland remain on one point and need a miracle in order to get a ticket to France.
In contrast to the well-balanced first leg, Slovenia stormed ahead soon in Celje. From 6:3 they went 13:8 ahead, standing strong in defence. After keeping a five-goal advantage until the break, it took them only 11 more minutes to get to a double-digit lead (22:12) and their win obviously never came under threat anymore.
Sunday’s biggest surprise happened in Aksaray Merkez: After two huge defeats in their first two matches against Germany and Spain, Turkey unexpectedly grabbed a point in Lithuania on Thursday, and they even claimed their first victory on Sunday. Both sides, though, have only a slim chance to advance from the group, which also includes Spain and Germany.
The win was fully deserved and puts the hosts in third position with three points, one ahead of Lithuania. From 8:8, the hosts improved in defence and allowed only two more goals until the half-time buzzer to extend the gap to five goals (15:10).
Nothing changed after the break as Turkey remained in full control of the match. The visitors did not have the means to stop the fluid Turkish attacks.
— EHF EURO (@EHFEURO) March 25, 2018
Hungary turned the tide and levelled the group again: Three days after their 19:18 defeat on home court, the Hungarian side conquered the sold-out fortress at Eindhoven on Sunday in another thriller. No team could cast off their opponents, the lead was changing all the time and defence was the key.
Hungary got their first two-goal lead at 16:14 in the duel between top coaches Helle Thomsen and Kim Rasmussen.
The Netherlands had their last lead (21:20) in minute 53 before Hungary took advantage from two suspensions with a 3:0 series to go 23:21 up. The Netherlands scored once more and had the last attack as well but saw a goal by Lois Abbingh just before the buzzer disallowed.
While Abbingh netted eight times, Anniko Kovacsics scored six for Hungary.
Both sides are on six points now and are expected to book their tickets later with matches against Belarus and Kosovo remaining.Belarus vs Kosovo 41:18 (21:9)
Following their second straight and clear win over Kosovo, Belarus still can hope for a ticket to France. They have four points - two less than Hungary and Netherlands.
Nataliya Kotzina (10), Viktorya Shamouskaya and Natalija Vasileuskaya (each five) combined scored more goals than Kosovo in total. Kosovo had already suffered big loss in the first meeting with Belarus on Wednesday, 31:22.