Russia, Lithuania, triumphant at goalball Euros A
Date: November 12, 2021
Russia and Lithuania are the new respective women’s and men’s regional champions after intense final clashes took place at the 2021 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball European Championships A in Samsun, Turkey, on Friday (12 November).
All games are available on-demand at goalball.sport. Results are available at the Championships website here.
A clash between world champions Russia and defending title holders Turkey was worthy of a European gold medal match in the women’s.
Turkish super-striker Sevda Altnuoluk set the scene right from the outset, powering an incredible shot past the Russian defence with the first throw of the game.
There are few players who can match Altunoluk’s scoring prowess but one is Russia’s Irina Arestova, who then levelled the score almost immediately. Another came for Arestova a few minutes later but Altunoluk stepped in the breach to even the scoreline again.
Arestova found another way through to just give Russia the advantage and conclude the scoring in the first half. It was the Russian top scorer who then put more pressure on the hosts after the first buzzer, scoring an impressive effort.
Altunoluk did not stop trying and brought Turkey back to within one goal, keeping their hopes alive.
Opportunities came and went for both sides but Arestova was on a roll. At 7:24 she added another to restore a more comfortable buffer for Russia.
More than five minutes ticked by without success for either team until Fatmagul Guler netted an effort with 44 seconds left. Turkey and their supporters smelt a comeback, but Russia proved too effective in defence and the game ended 5-4.
In the men’s gold medal game, Tokyo 2020 bronze medallists Lithuania were forced into a comeback by 2019 silver medallists Ukraine.
Rodion Zhyhalin opened the scoring for Ukraine as he has done on so many occasions, giving them a 2-0 lead three minutes in.
But Lithuania had Justas Pazarauskas and overall tournament top scorer Nerijus Montvydas in their back pockets. The pair struck the back of net to level the scores.
After the first whistle, Arturas Jonikaitis added his name to the scoresheet to take the lead for Lithuania.
Zhyhalin then brought his team back in the game but Lithuania found their groove shortly after. Three goals passed the Ukrainian line – the first from Pazarauskas. He and Jonikaitis then struck twice in quick succession to put Ukraine’s title hope to rest for the second consecutive time.
Having just missed out on the podium in 2019, hosts Turkey went one better in the men’s bronze medal match.
Evenly matched against rivals and defending champions Germany in the first-half, goals came from Ebubekir Kara and Tuncay Karakaya for Turkey and Michael Dennis and Oliver Hoerauf for Germany.
But with a raucous crowd behind them, the hosts finished the second period with a flourish. After Karakaya took the lead less than two minutes in neither side could break through.
That was until Kara whipped the ball over the line at 2:17 to double their advantage. He followed up once more in the dying stages, causing the Germans’ heads to drop further, adding one more to land Turkey firmly on the podium.
A clinical performance from 2019 silver medallists Israel in the women’s bronze medal match led to an early bath for Denmark.
Lihi Ben David and Ori Mizrahi combined to score an impressive eight goals in the first half. Mizrahi then finished the job three minutes into the second period to bring the game to an early close.
Mizrahi and Ben David both found the net five times.
France finished a respectable fifth place in the women’s competition after a 4-2 win over Great Britain.
The Paris 2024 hosts looked towards Audrey Belkhir once more as the Frenchwomen grabbed a hat-trick.
Belgium overcame Russia 10-5 to finish fifth in the men’s. A close first half was followed by a masterclass from the Belgians as Russia struggled to keep in touch. Tom Vanhove found the net six times across the match to end as top scorer for Belgium.
Montenegro retained their place in division A as they overcame Finland for seventh place. Nikola Nikolic was their star player, netting six of their seven goals. Finland will now be relegated.
In the women’s, Germany broke Ukrainian hearts with a 5-1 win that sees them stay in the top flight. A trio of goals in the first half from Pia Knaute, and one from Charlotte Karcher, more or less sealed the German victory. With the loss Ukraine go down to pool B.
The 2021 IBSA Goalball European Championships A ran from 5-12 November.