20220317

Portugal down Switzerland as all home teams win

EHF / Björn Pazen

The first leg of part 1 in qualification phase 2 for the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship in Poland and Sweden was completed Thursday evening with wins for the home teams in all three matches.

While Portugal (33:26 against Switzerland) and North Macedonia (30:22 against Romania) built a substantial buffer ahead of the second leg this weekend, Austria (35:33 against Estonia) face a more open return match.

On Wednesday, Greece, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Israel also had first-leg wins. All reverse fixtures are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

QUALIFICATION PHASE 2, PART 1, 1ST LEG:

Austria vs Estonia 35:33 (15:16)

  • in the first 20 minutes, Austria had defensive problems against the powerful Estonian shooters Dener Jaanimaa (six goals in total) and Karl Toom (seven) and were down by 11:6
  • boosted by the goals of line player Tobias Wagner (top scorer with nine goals) and debutant Moritz Mittendorfer (six) the hosts leveled the match before the break and used a 6:0 run for 22:19 to turn around the match
  • in this crucial period, Szeged left wing Sebastian Frimmel and Kiel left back Nikola Bilyk were unstoppable and steered Austria to their first four-goal advantage at 27:23
  • Estonia still leveled three times in the last three minutes before Bilyk with his eighth goal and Nikola Stevanovic provided Austria with a 35:33 victory
  • the winners of this duel will face Iceland for a World Championship ticket

North Macedonia vs Romania 30:22 (16:13)

  • North Macedonia opened the gate widely to the next play-off round, where Czech Republic are the opponents of the winners of this tie
  • Macedonian playing coach Kiril Lazarov defeated his former Barcelona and current Romania coach Xavi Pascual, and added seven goals to his tally
  • the hosts went 7:3 up and never gave the lead away, even though Romania improved in the remaining 20 minutes of the first half
  • backed by 10 goals of left back Filip Taleski, the hosts came through a difficult phase when Romania reduced the deficit to just one: 21:20
  • this was the wake-up call for the home team, which decided the match with a 9:1 run for 30:21, despite 11 saves of Romanian goalkeeper Ionut Cyprian Iancu

Portugal vs Switzerland 33:26 (15:12)

  • after missing the main round at EHF EURO 2022, Portugal showed a different face tonight and looked set to advance to a play-off duel with Netherlands
  • outstanding line player Victor Iturriza could not be stopped by the Swiss defence and scored eight goals
  • boosted by 15 saves of goalkeeper Gustavo Capdeville, the hosts were constantly ahead by three or more goals - except in the middle of the second half, when Switzerland reduced the gap to 20:18
  • a counter-attack goal of Pedro Portela for 29:23 six minutes before the end decided the duel, in which three Swiss players scored 18 of their 26 goals: Lenny Rubin (seven), Andre Schmid (six) and Marvin Lier (five)
  • both teams played at the World Championship in 2021: Portugal finished 10th for their best ever result; Switzerland initially failed to qualify but could still take part - for the first time since reaching the quarter-finals in 1995 - after several qualified teams withdrew due to Covid-19
20220317 M Wch 2023 Q AUTEST Quote
I am satisfied with the win. The guys gave everything. Winning by two is a pity because we were four ahead in the second half, but the goalkeeper of Estonia did well, too. We had our chances, missed several 100-percent chances, but it was good how we kept cool in the last minute and won this match.
Aleš Pajovič
Austria head coach

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