Slovenia book EHF EURO ticket; France strike back

QUALIFIERS REVIEW 3: Italy beat Slovakia for the second time, as Bosnia-Herzegovina take the top position in their group and Israel avenge their round 3 defeat to Kosovo

Centre back Miha Zarabec was the top scorer for Slovenia in the round 4 qualifier.

The second ticket for the Men’s EHF EURO 2020 is confirmed: Slovenia remain with a clean record after their second victory in the double header against the Netherlands on Sunday and follow Germany to the final tournament, with eight points in their account.

Portugal missed the chance to qualify in round 4 after a clear defeat in France, but are in a promising position to reach the EURO, as are the French and Bosnians, who left Finland chanceless behind.

Italy caused another major surprise with their away win in Slovakia, while Israel took clear revenge at home after the defeat in Kosovo.

Israel vs Kosovo 30:24 (11:9)

Israel learned their lesson from the 24:27 defeat in Kosovo on Wednesday and are now back in second position with four points – two points ahead of both Kosovo and Poland.

After 19 minutes, the game had more or less been decided, as Israel pulled ahead for 9:3. Though they only scored twice in the remaining 11 minutes until the break, Israel were still in front. Finally, they decided the duel in minute 47 with the score at 24:17.

Though the visitors never gave up, they conceded their third defeat.

Slovenia vs Netherlands 30:23 (16:11)

In contrast to the buzzer-beating 27:26 away win in the Netherlands on Thursday, Slovenia had an easy-going afternoon on home ground and booked their EHF EURO ticket in style. The 2020 event will be the 12th EHF EURO participation for the 2004 silver medallists.

A 7:3 start was the base for Slovenia’s never endangered fourth victory in their fourth qualification match. After Germany, the Slovenians are the second team to have the maximum of eight points on their account.

Following the break, 16:11, the difference was constantly between five and seven goals in favour of the hosts, for whom Miha Zarabec was top scorer with five goals. The Netherlands remain on two points and are now four points below second-ranked side of Latvia.

Bosnia-Herzegovina vs Finland 31:19 (16:10)

After their clear victory against Finland, Bosnia-Herzegovina moved into the top position in their group where they sit equal with the Czechs on six points, but with a better goal difference.

Like in the first leg (30:26), the Balkan side were out of reach for Finland, who are still waiting for their first point in this qualification and are already without a chance of snatching an EHF EURO ticket.

Dejan Malinovic and Dino Hamidovic were the top scorers for the hosts with five goals each. After the 12:9, the hosts easily pulled ahead to the clear victory.

France vs Portugal 33:24 (16:15)

The second half was a true statement from the record world champions and three-time EHF EURO gold medallists: After their biggest ever EHF EURO qualification defeat (27:33) on Thursday and an equal first half, the French empire struck back in the last 14 minutes of Sunday’s clash.

Portugal were almost on an equal level at 22:23, but then were completely overrun by the Frenchmen, who scored a 10:2 run until the final buzzer. After Nikola Karabatic did not play in the first leg, the three-time World Player of the Year was back on court in Strasbourg, netting five goals.

In addition, the trio of Nedim Remili, Michael Guigou (each seven) and Ludovic Fabregas (six) scored 20 of the 33 goals for the victors. 

Both sides are now on six points and are on course for the EHF EURO 2020.

Slovakia vs Italy 23:26 (11:12)

History continues for Italy: After their first ever victory in the final qualification stage for an EHF EURO event on Wednesday (26:23), they took their first away win in this stage. The result against a lacklustre performance from Slovakia, who were missing several players from national champions TATRAN Presov, was exactly the same as in the away leg.

Despite seven goals from Matej Mikita, the hosts remain on the bottom of the table. Italy are now third ranked, only one point below Russia. The top scorers for the hosts in Bystrica were Davide Bulzamini and Andrea Carlo Parisini with five goals each. 

written by Björn Pazen / cg