The Czech Republic had goalkeeper Martin Galia to thank for the second match in a row as they followed Austria through in to the main round with a 23:19 victory over Ukraine in Vienna.
The 40-year-old was named player of the match in the win over North Macedonia in Czech’s previous match and the veteran stopper repeated his heroics to lead his team to victory.
Galia kept out 10 shots and got himself on the scoresheet to give the Czech Republic a three-goal lead that they would not relinquish to ensure they finished as group B runners-up.
Ukraine, who had led by one goal in a low-scoring first half, exit the competition after losing all three games – they will have to wait at least another two years for a first EHF EURO win since 2006.
- Czech Republic finish as group B runners-up and join Austria in main round
- Ukraine lose ninth successive EHF EURO match
- Czech goalkeeper Martin Galia records 37 per cent save ratio and scores to open up a three-goal lead
- centre back Tomas Babak wins player of the match award, top scoring for the Czechs with six goals from 10 shots
Ukraine vs Czech Republic 19:23 (10:9)
With Austria through after defeating North Macedonia in the game before, a main round place was up for grabs for one of the rivals from the last group B match.
As a result, the first half was an extremely nervy affair characterised by poor finishing in front of goal. Just 19 goals were scored from 36 shots in the opening half hour with both teams guilty of missing chances.
So much so, in an 11-minute period, the teams scored just three goals between them from 15 shots.
In among the spurned opportunities it was the Ukrainians who held a slender one-goal advantage at the interval thanks to three successful penalties from right wing Artem Kozakevych.
After the break the misses kept coming – however it was the reflexes of Martin Galia, the 40-year-old Czech goalkeeper and hero from their win over North Macedonia, that ensured his team led for the first time four minutes into the second half.
— EHF EURO (@EHFEURO) January 14, 2020
Ukraine twice hit the woodwork as both teams traded the lead, with the Czechs opening up a two-goal advantage for the first time on 44 minutes thanks to two empty net efforts (33.9m, 26.4m) from right wing Miroslav Jurka.
But it was Galia who kept the Czechs’ noses in front. After the experienced stopper kept out a number of Ukrainian efforts, the keeper got himself on the scoresheet which opened up a three-goal.
That proved crucial and knocked the wind out of Ukraine and the Czech Republic were able to comfortably add to their tally in the closing stages. The main round awaits for Jan Filip and Daniel Kubes’ side as they aim to emulate their sixth place finish at EHF EURO 2016.