DAY REVIEW: Russia made use of a Czech goal drought to qualify for IHF Men's World Championship 2019, while Norway could afford a three-goal defeat in Switzerland.
Russia and Norway clinch World Championship berths
Russia and Norway became the first countries to secure tickets to the IHF Men's 2019 World Championship, after the second-leg matches of the play-offs started on Tuesday.
Russia made good use of a 13-minute long Czech Republic goal drought, to win 29:21, which was more than enough to qualify, while a 33:30 away defeat to Switzerland did not stifle Norway after their 32:26 win at home.
Russia vs Czech Republic 29:21 (14:11)
After missing the 2017 World Championship as well as the EHF EURO 2018, Russia will finally return to a major competition.
The Czechs, who made it to sixth position in EURO 2018, were hanging in for a long time in the return match in Perm, but 13 minutes at the end which were goalless for them proved fatal.
The Russians were dominating the first half, although they were not as dominant as they were in the first 30 minutes of the first leg last Friday.
Still, they were leading all the way, from 2:0 at the start to five-goal leads at 12:7, 13:8 and 14:9, before the Czechs managed to reduce the gap a bit by scoring the last two goals before the break.
The visitors, who were missing their hero from the first match, veteran goalkeeper Petr Stochl, managed to keep the distance down to two goals for great parts of the second half.
With their one-goal lead from the first leg, the Czechs were actually able to keep the tie exciting for the first 17 minutes of the second half.
With 13 minutes left, the distance was still two goals, 23:21.
However, the Czechs did not score a single goal for the rest of the match, and with six successive goals, Russia march into the final tournament.
With eight goals and a generally stellar performance, centre back Dmitry Zhitnikov made a strong contribution to the Russian triumph.
Switzerland vs Norway 33:30 (15:16)
While Norway are now set for the final tournament in Denmark and Germany next January, the Scandinavians seemed to be heading for serious trouble early in the second half.
Realising the deficit they needed to overcome, Switzerland started by attacking seven against six.
This earned them a couple of three-goal leads at 7:4 and 9:6 within the first quarter of an hour, but the Norwegians managed to narrow the gap every time.
At 20 minutes, Norway equalised, 11:11, and four minutes later they took the lead, 14:13.
The Scandinavians also went two goals up at 16:14 four minutes before half time, before the home team scored the last goal of the half.
It took the Swiss less than three minutes of the second half to get three goals ahead again though, 20:17, and that lead was even increased to four, 22:18, four minutes later.
However, the Norwegians managed to ride the storm and keep the score from becoming really alarming from their point of view.
For the rest of the match, the home team were never leading by more than two goals, until they finally made it three in the last few seconds of the match.
TEXT: Peter Bruun/kc
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