Three former champions make W17 EHF EURO 2019 Semi-finalsArticle
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DAY REVIEW: On the last day of the main round Hungary, Sweden and Denmark joined already-qualified France into the last four as the tournament in Slovenia approaches its business end

Three former champions make W17 EHF EURO 2019 Semi-finals

Hungary became the fourth team to qualify for the Women’s 17 EHF EURO 2019 Semi-finals in Slovenia after a narrow 28:27 win over Norway in the last main-round game on Wednesday night.

Hours earlier, Sweden and Denmark had booked their tickets for the semi-finals, a day after France had already secured their spot. On Friday, Hungary will take on Denmark at 17:00 hrs, followed by France against Sweden at 19:30 hrs for a place in Sunday’s final.

Hungary have won bronze in this competition four times, including in the last two editions in 2015 and ’17, but have not reached the final so far, while Denmark (2005, ’09, ’15), France (2007) and Sweden (2013) have all lifted the trophy in the past.

Group I: Sweden without problems, Hungary keep winning

All four teams of Group I were still in the race going into the last day of main-round play. But Austria, needing a big win over Sweden, soon saw their slim chance completely disappear when the Scandinavians took control of their match from the start, building a 6:2 lead in the opening 10 minutes.

Sweden’s advantage was six at the break (17:11) and reached double-digit figures for the first time in the 44th minute, 24:14. The match ended in 35:21, with Tyra Axner (six goals) once more Sweden’s best scorer.

Katarina Pandza contributed seven goals for Austria, raising her tournament total to 44 to further extend her lead in the top scorers’ list.

After rivals Sweden’s win, Norway knew they needed a substantial victory in the last group game against Hungary to qualify for the semi-finals.

Selma Henriksen scored the first two goals of the match to give Norway an early 2:0 lead but it would be the only time that the Scandinavian side were up by more than one goal.

Hungary, having won all matches so far this tournament, went 16:12 ahead before half-time but head coach Szilárd Kiss’ team saw their victory endangered by a late revival from their opponents.

A 3:0 run gave Norway the lead again (27:26) with just over two minutes left, but top scorer Petra Koronczai with her ninth goal and Mira Vamos with a brilliant lob from the left wing in the last second made sure that Hungary’s winning streak continued.

Group II: Russia win but fail to put pressure on Denmark

The situation in Group II was more straight-forward: France had already qualified for the semi-finals, and Denmark (on three points, goal difference +6) or Russia (one, -7) would join them.

Russia needed a win against Germany with a big margin to put pressure on Denmark ahead of the Scandinavians’ match against leaders France.

However, Russia had to come back from a two-goal deficit several times in the first half against Germany to reach the break only with a narrow 12:11 lead. The match was still completely in the balance after 46 minutes (17:17) before a 5:0 run in just over three minutes put Russia in the driving seat, 22:17.

However, Germany clawed their way back into the game and a last-minute strike from Maj Nielsen reduced the deficit to just two, 24:22.

That result meant that Denmark could relax a bit ahead of their game against France, as a defeat of up to 10 goals would still be enough for them to reach the semi-finals. But the Scandinavians had a shaky start and soon found themselves 4:1 down.

However, a 10-goal defeat was never on the cards as Denmark found their stride halfway through the first half and they were down by just one (11:10) at the break.

In a low-scoring second half, the gap grew to four goals (15:11) at one point but the French 17:15 victory in the end comfortably sent Denmark through as well.

All matches live on

The semi-finals on Friday (playing schedule) will be streamed live on, like all other matches at the tournament in Celje.

Information on the W17 EHF EURO 2019 is also available on the official tournament homepage.

TEXT: EHF / ew