Sweden, Hungary, Slovenia and Serbia took clear wins in the first leg of the European Women’s World Championship play-offs on Saturday - and all are right on their way to Germany. The final decisions on the way to Germany 2017 (1 to 17 December) will be taken in the second leg matches between Tuesday and Thursday.
Italy vs Serbia 23:33 (11:16)
A historic huge crowd of 3200 fans was not enough for the Italians to keep the flames of hope for their second ever World Championship participation burning. The host, who were the organizers of the 2001 final tournament, were close only until the 9:6, then the bigger international experience, skills and power were the keys for the runners-up of the 2013 World Championship. Even seven goals each of Laura Retondo and Bianca del Balzo were not enough to keep up with Serbia. After the 16:11 at the break, four unanswered Serbian goals for the 26:17 finally decided the unequal encounter.
Hungary vs Slovakia 28:19 (14:8)
After steering her club Györ to their third Champions League trophy five weeks ago, Anita Görbicz was the mastermind behind this unexpected clear success in another neighbours’ dull on the way to Germany by nine goals. The hosts had been dominant throughout the full 60 minutes. After a quite comfortable six-goal advance at the break, it took only six minutes more, until Hungary had their first double-figured gap at 19:9 - latest then, the deal was sealed. Martina Skolvovba was best Slovak scorer by six goals - her side need a miracle now to turn the page on home turf.
Croatia vs Slovenia 23:28 (10:15)
The newly built Croatian side have an extreme high hurdle ahead to turn the tide and to qualify for Germany 2017. The 4:4 was the last levelled intermediate result, then the Slovenians dominated the neighbour’s duel. After a five-goal advance at the break, the each six goals of Neli Irfam and Tamara Mavsar were the reason for the perfect Slovenian base in the re-match. Best Croatian scorer was Kristina Plahinek by five goals.
Czech Republic vs Turkey 29:25 (15:15)
The top scorer of the previous German Bundesliga season made the Czechs happy: Netting in eleven times, Göppingen’s shooter Michaela Hrbkova was the cornerstone of the hosts. The fans at Most were quite surprised when the Turks turned a 2:5 deficit into a 10:7 lead after 20 minutes. After the levelled half time score, the rollercoaster changed its direction again immediately, as the Czechs netted in a 4:0 series for the 19:15. Funny enough the favoured Czechs could not fully cast-off their opponent, which now can cause a true surprise in the second leg.
FYR Macedonia vs Sweden 20:31 (9:12)
After a quite equal first half, the Macedonians lacked power, precision and ideas - thus, the Swedes could seal the deal in an easy going way. With nearly all court players scoring, the Scandinavians proved their clearly higher number of alternatives, while the hosts only had to rely on the in total seven goals of top scorer Elena Gjeorgjievska. Ten minutes before the end, the gap was ten goals for the first time at 26:16, the biggest intermediate advance were twelve goals.
Friday’s results: Montenegro vs Belarus 33:26 (12:15), Russia vs Poland 31:20 (15:14), Romania vs Austria 34:29 (17:16), Ukraine vs Spain 24:24 (10:16)
The schedule for the second leg:
Tuesday, 13 June:
Austria vs Romania
Sweden vs FYR Macedonia
Wednesday, 14 June:
Serbia vs Italy
Slovakia vs Hungary
Spain vs Ukraine
Thursday, 15 June:
Belarus vs Montenegro
Poland vs Russia
Slovenia vs Croatia
Turkey Czech Republic