Clear second victories for the favourites
No chance for the underdogs despite their home rights in round 2 of the Women’s EHF EURO 2020 qualifiers: In Sunday’s first four matches, the favourites Netherlands, Montenegro, Hungary and Slovenia had easy-going afternoons all over Europe. Each took their second victory on the path to the final tournament in Norway and Denmark.
It is the lowest score ever for a Hungarian opponent, as Italy net only 10 times
Netherlands come close to their all-time record win in EHF EURO qualifiers while visiting Greece
Greta Kavaliauskaite (Lithuania) and Ana Gros (Slovenia) score 11 goals apiece in their respective encounters
The Netherlands were close to their biggest win ever in EHF EURO qualifiers – a 45:16 result versus Bulgaria – while the Greek hosts were defeated even clearer than in their opener in Spain (18:33).
It was the highest score so far and the third time in the current EHF EURO 2020 qualifiers that a team scored 40 goals or more, after Germany’s 40:30 result against Belarus and Montenegro’s 41:17 win against Italy.
In the initial stages, Greece were even ahead until the score board showed 4:3, then the Dutch express started running, scoring an 8:0 series for 11:4. The margin hit double digits for the first time in minute 32, with a 23:13 score for coach Emmanuel Mayonnade’s team – but the hosts were out of power at that point, and netted only five times after the break.
A total of 10 Dutch players scored three or more goals towards the victory.
As expected, Montenegro did not have a tough task in Lithuania and took their second clear victory of the qualifiers, while the hosts of the encounter still wait for their first points after their second defeat.
Montenegro were better in all departments: The EHF EURO 2012 champions scored from all positions, had the clearly stronger goalkeeper in Anastasija Babovic, and ultimately outran their opponents through a series of counter attacks. Even 11 goals from top scorer Greta Kavaliauskaite were not enough for the hosts to finish with a better result.
The distance was double figured for the first time at 27:17, but the winners were confirmed in what was the first duel between these sides much earlier.
The top scorer for the victors were Djurdjina Jaukovic (nine goals) and Majda Mehmedovic (six goals), who received the best player award right after her direct red card in the last second for blocking a Lithuanian attack.
For the first time ever in an EHF EURO qualification match, Hungary kept their opponents below 12 goals – the lowest score previously was a 37:12 result against Kosovo in 2017.
The youngsters Noemi Hafra and Katrin Klujber led the match for Hungary, while the hosts, as expected, were something like girls against women.
The four Italian goals at the break were exactly the average of the two previous matches against Hungary in 1997, when the half-time scores were 6:14 and 2:15. In minute 49, the difference reached 20 goals for the first time, at 26:6 – but the outcome was decided long before that moment.
Belarus missed a huge change to move closer to their first EHF EURO final tournament since 2008.
After the 30:40 defeat in Germany in round 1, hopes were high for Belarus to secure points against Slovenia on home ground. But a strong start and more solid defence compared to Wednesday’s opener were not enough to stop the young Slovenia side, including their unstoppable top scorer Ana Gros (11 goals).
Coach Uros Bregar found the means to turn a 1:3 deficit into an 8:4 advantage as soon as minute 12. From that moment on, the visitors more or less controlled the match.
Belarus had their strongest period at the start of the second half, when they reduced the gap to 18:20. Just when the tide was close to turning however, Slovenia were more aggressive in defence, pulling ahead to 25:19 within six minutes. At the score of 31:25 in minute 56, the deal was sealed.
While Slovenia have the maximum of four points prior to the qualification double header against Germany next spring, Belarus are still on zero points.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg