2015 champions Denmark off to winning start, hosts Slovakia well beatenArticle
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DAY REVIEW: Opening day of Women’s 17 EHF EURO full of goals as Denmark, winners of the Women's 17 EHF EURO 2015, look strong again

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2015 champions Denmark off to winning start, hosts Slovakia well beaten

Michalovce, Slovakia welcomed the best women’s 17 teams from around Europe as the first round of games of the Women’s 17 EHF EURO 2017 threw off on Thursday. All 16 teams were in action in the four groups of the Preliminary Round.

Ahead of the opening matches yesterday afternoon (Thursday 10 August), an opening press conference was held in the Chemkostav Arena, Michalovce, featuring Predrag Boskovič (Vice President of the European Handball Federation), Jaroslav Holeša (President of the Slovak Handball Federation) and the Mayor of Michalovce.

“The European Handball Federation has a long-lasting cooperation with the Slovak Handball Federation in organising these type of events,” said Boskovič. “Every time everything has been good, so I am pretty sure that this championship will be good as well."

All games of the Women’s 17 EHF EURO will be live on ehfTV.

Group A

2015 runners-up Russia lost their opening match 19:15 against Germany as Aimee von Pereira was voted best player for the Germans, thanks to her seven strikes. An extremely defensive first half saw just 11 goals scored as Russia took a one-goal lead into the break (6:5), and despite a best player performance for her Russian side, Valerila Maslova’s five goals were not enough as the Germans came from three goals behind in the second half.

“The match was challenging and we were afraid of the Germans,” said Maslova. “It was the first match and we had a great pressure on us, so we got stressed and our performance wasn't that good.”

“It was a really great match,” said von Pereira. “I felt very well because we were helping each other and our defence was doing a fantastic job. Defences played a decisive role in this game and the last 10 minutes of the first half were relatively goalless, which showed how able the defenders of both teams are. I believe our positive mindset played a crucial role – even though we were losing by three goals, it didn’t break our spirits.”

Another half-time turnaround happened in the second group A game of the day as a high-scoring match ended 35:33 (12:13) to Netherlands, against Austria. However, the game will be remembered for a remarkable 15 goals from Netherlands’ Zoe Sprengers which earnt her the best player of the match for the Oranje.

Normally, 11 goals are enough to be on a winning side, or at least win a best player award, but Nina Neidhart did not receive either, as her teammate Adrian Marksteiner grabbed the best player award for her side in the tight game which saw Netherlands calm their nerves in the last 15 seconds with a time-out. "It was a very tough game,” said Janssen Edwin, Netherlands head coach. “I think that the creativity and maybe the aggression in the game were good but still we need to play better."

Group B

It may be a different generation, but it was another win; Denmark, 2015 winners of this competition opened up their campaign with a 22:20 (11:12) victory over Croatia in another game which saw a half-time deficit overcome. Eight goals from Denmark’s Emilie Bodholt Steffensen were enough to see her win the best player award for her side while seven from Lea Franusic ensured she won the award for Croatia.

“I am satisfied with my team, especially for them withstanding the challenges,” said Flemming Larsen, Denmark's head coach. “It was a spectacular handball match but it was also a very tough fight. The girls managed to win in the end so I’m very proud of them.”

Bronze medallists from 2015, Hungary, eased past Montenegro 30:23 (16:8) to start Slovakia 2017 strongly as Emoke Varga took the best player award for the winners. Nikola Knezevic scored eight times for the Montenegrins, but Ivana Godec did enough to win the best player award for the Balkan team.

“I am very tired but very proud to be a part of this team,” said Lea Franusic, Croatia's player of the match. “We left our hearts on the field and gave our best. If we maintain a strong defence there are lots of chances and possibilities for us.”

Group C

Romania, beaten by Hungary in the Women’s 17 EHF EURO 2015 bronze medal match saw off stiff competition from France to win 26:23 (11:10) as the French failed to make their opponents pay from the penalty spot, finishing just one out of their four seven-metre shots.

The fact that Romania goalkeeper Diana Cristiana Ciuca was given the best player award for her country highlighted the defensive qualities they showed to gain the two points, as Cristina Andreea Popa scored seven at the other end. Julie Leblevec was France’s best player, scoring five goals in the game.

Another low-scoring first half saw Sweden and Czech Republic tied (9:9) at the break, but Sweden, led by their best player Nina Dano, pushed in front and despite a best player performance from their goalkeeper Sabrina Novotna, the Czech Republic could not catch up.

Group D

Unfortunately for the hosts, and the near-1,000 spectators inside the Chemkostav Arena, Michalovce, Slovakia came up against a dominant Spanish side in their opening game, losing 36:25 (20:12).

Janna Casol Sobrepera scored seven for the visitors to gain her a best player award and nine goals from Martina Popovcova saw her finish top-scorer for the home side as goalkeeper Lucia Tomasechova, who scored a goal herself, was voted best player for the home side.

In the other group D game of the opening day, Norway were always in control over Serbia, winning 23:16 (12:8) as Marielle Nordvang won her sides’ best players award (five goals), Emilija Lazic won the best player award for her side.

Follow the Women’s 17 EHF EURO

All games of the Women’s 17 EHF EURO will be live on ehfTV.

For all the match throw-off times click HERE.

For the official competition website click HERE.

Photos: Slovakian Handball Federation