Poland, Czech Republic and Slovenia take final EHF EURO tickets

QUALIFICATION REVIEW 2: The qualification for France came to a dramatic end when Slovenia earned a last-minute equaliser in Czech Republic to deny Austria a spot at the EHF EURO 2018 as the best third-ranked team

Czech Republic's players cheering after qualifying for EHF EURO 2018.

After 84 matches the qualification for the Women’s EHF EURO 2018 in France has been concluded on Sunday evening, and the very last goal in the very last match decided the last two participants of the final tournament.

After Poland had secured ticket number 13 by beating Slovakia, Slovenia crowned a stunning comeback in the Czech Republic from five goals down at halftime to earn a 30:30 draw - and a ticket to France.

If either the Czechs or the Slovenians had won this duel, Austria would have secured the 15th spot as best third-ranked team. In this separate ranking, Slovenia and Austria each had two points but the Slovenian goal difference was better than the Austrians’.

Poland vs Slovakia 26:21 (12:7)

Poland could afford to lose by up to nine goals and still book their ticket to France but the team of head coach leszek Krowicki took another commanding win. Cheered on by their fans in Koszalin, Joana Drabik was the top scorer with six goals in the one-sided match. Poland started in express mode, quickly leading 4:0 and later taking a five-goal-advantage (12:7) to the dressing rooms. In the farewell match of coach Dusan Poloz, Slovakia did not have the means for a surprise. When the margin reached double digits (20:10) in minute 39, all Slovakian hopes were gone. Poland, with eight points, finished runner-up to unbeaten Montenegro, with the maximum 12 points.

Serbia vs FYR Macedonia 35:30 (16:13)

Serbia finished on top of Group 3 ahead of Sweden. Level on 10 points, the direct duel decided in favour of Serbia, which won 30:23 at home and lost just 31:30 in Sweden. The Macedonians finished six points behind in third.

Having won the away leg 33:27, Serbia cruised to another victory over FYR Macedonia on Sunday. The hosts had their first three-goal lead at the break and pulled further ahead to 19:13 early in the second half. Marija Obradovic and Katarina Krpez-Szlezak scored six goals each, making the latter the overall top scorer of the qualification tournament with 47 goals. Best scorer in the match was Elena Gjeorgjievska with nine.

Romania vs Portugal 32:28 (19:13)

Romania secured top spot in their group ahead of Olympic champions Russia after a match with two different faces. Romania sped to a 9:2 lead and were still ahead by six goals at the break.

But with the victory in mind, Romania lost their pace and allowed Portugal to get closer in the second half. However, the win for the hosts came never under threat. Romania who won five of their six qualification matches and had already secured their trip to France after beating Austria in the previous round. Eliza Buceschi netted 10 times, Maria Soares was the best Portuguese scorer with six goals.

Czech Republic vs Slovenia 30:30 (17:12)

What a thriller, what a happy-end for Slovenia. Thanks to the sixth goal of Tjasa Stanko just over 40 seconds before the final buzzer, Slovenia snatched the 15th ticket for the EHF EURO in France away from Austria – and both sides on court could celebrate their qualification for the final tournament.

Boosted by an outstanding performance of Iveta Luzumova, who scored nine goals, the hosts secured their spot in France. They were 17:12 up at half-time but the side of coach Uros Bregar stroke back in the second half. They levelled the score in minute 55 (27:27) and did so again in the final minute when Stanko found the net for 30:30. As the Czechs squandered their final attack, the EHF EURO dream came true for both sides. Stanko, Nina Zulic and Ana Gros all scored six times.

written by Björn Pazen / ew