Thursday’s Women’s EHF EURO 2018 Qualification matches saw two thrilling encounters, ending with Turkey taking their first points on the road to France and the Netherlands continuing with a perfect record.
After trailing for most of the match, Lithuania equalised in the dying seconds to split the points with Turkey, taking their tally to two while Turkey are on one. In Group 7, the Netherlands recorded a crucial away win in the top-of-the-table clash against Hungary.
Lithuania vs Turkey 22:22 (9:12)
Based on the results in Rounds 1 and 2, Lithuania might have expected less of a challenge from Turkey. The hosts of Thursday evening’s encounter in Kaunas entered the court with one point after shocking Germany with a draw in their opening EHF EURO 2018 Qualification match, while Turkey counted zero points following heavy defeats at the hands of both Germany and Spain in their first games.
However, it was Turkey who immediately took the lead. Though Lithuania came back to level the score more than once in the first half, Turkey always threatened to pull away. With the last goals of the first 30 minutes, Turkey created a three-goal lead, and Lithuania were left to chase through the second period.
Turkey maintained control with their lead ranging between one to four goals, seeming on their way to victory, but it was Lithuania who had the final say. With the last two goals of the match, the hosts finally levelled once more, and with that celebrated one point that had seemed out of their reach.
— EHF EURO (@EHFEURO) March 22, 2018
As semi-finalists at the last four major international tournaments, Netherlands were expected to be a big challenge for Hungary. But playing at home meant Hungary had something of an edge, particularly following the scenes that preceded the match, when 2005 IHF World Player of the Year Anita Görbicz was presented as her farewell to the national team.
It was a tightly-fought contest, with the teams each taking their turns holding the narrow advantage before the score was levelled again. Hungary goalkeeper Blanka Biro had a particularly impressive performance, but it was Netherlands ‘keeper Tess Wester who decided the game in the end.
With both goalkeepers in impeccable form, the result was a low-scoring match that saw the board at 16:15 as the last quarter began and just minutes before the end, with the Netherlands in front 19:18, Hungary back Zsuzsanna Tomori left the court with an injury.
After this, neither team found the goal again, and Wester made two crucial saves in the last minutes that kept the visitors in front as the buzzer sounded.