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Teams reflect on first group games at goalball Euros A

Date: October 10, 2019

Category: Goalball

By Sam Harris | For IBSA

The 2019 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball European Championships A got underway in earnest on Wednesday (9 October), as the first full day of group games took place in Rostock, Germany.
Women – Pool X
Greece women came from two goals down to earn a spectacular last-gasp 3-2 win against Finland in their first match of Rostock 2019.
It had looked unlikely when a double either side of half-time from Lida Kaupila gave Finland a 2-0 lead.
However, the Greeks reduced the arrears through Konstantina Driva and soon levelled courtesy of Vasiliki Ago.
This set up a stunning finale and Greece triumphed dramatically thanks to Driva.
However the Greeks were less fortunate when they met Ukraine later in the day, conceding a last minute winner.
In a tight first half Ukraine came closest to breaking the deadlock, twice forcing scrambling saves from their Greek counterparts.
Ukraine’s Olena Rud looked the most likely to score but she also proved to be just as effective in defence.
Greece flicked an effort just wide and Ukraine pushed a shot onto the crossbar as both sides worked hard to preserve their clean sheet.
Each team’s defence continued to impress in the second period, but Ukraine grabbed the points through a lone goal from Yuliia Fakieieva.
Russia eased to victory in their opening match in Rostock, dispatching Denmark
They had goals from all areas with Anastasia Mazur and Irina Arestova netting 12 between them.
Nine of these came before the break as they led 9-3 with their accuracy and variety overwhelming the Danes.
As well as their goal scoring, the Russians looked solid defensively and Anna Shevchenko was called into action a few times. 
The reigning World and European champions did not let up after the break, adding five goals to secure a comprehensive win.
Russia went on to beat Ukraine 10-6 whilst Denmark secured a win of their own. They overcame Finland 5-2.
Women – Pool Y
Paralympic champions Turkey narrowly avoided a shock defeat in their first match of the European championships, beating Great Britain 3-2.
Goals from no.3, their main attacking threat, ensured they got off to the perfect start in Rostock.
Great Britain defended brilliantly at times with Sarah Letter making a series of excellent saves throughout.
In a keenly contested affair, Turkey took an early lead and put their opponents under serious pressure in the first-half.
However, Britain struck either side of the break through Kali Holder to lead 2-1.
Despite this, the experienced Turkish side hit back with two more goals from no.3 to seal a hard earned victory.
Turkey found themselves at the top of the pile once again later on when they eased to a 10-0 win over The Netherlands.
After hosts Germany picked up their second win of Rostock 2019 in the morning with a 4-2 win over Great Britain, they fell to Israel later in the day.
Israel had found themselves behind early on thanks to goals from Stefanie Behrens and Pia Knaute.
However Israel scored seven unanswered goals thanks to hat-tricks from Roni Ohayon and Lihi Ben David and Or Mizrahi's strike.
It was a controlled first half display, giving them a 7-2 lead at the interval.
Despite conceding early, an Ohayon brace extended the lead.
They were not troubled further in the second half and finished comfortable winners at 9-3.
Men – Pool B
In a clash of two European goalball titans, Germany made it two successive wins with a surprising 10-0 rout over Belgium.
They raced into a 4-0 lead inside the first three minutes courtesy of a Michael Feistle hat-trick and goal from Felix Rogge.
2017 bronze medallists Belgium were on the back foot throughout the opening period and could not trouble their opponents.
The hosts were roared on by the crowd and ended the first half 7-0 ahead.
The home side ensured the second period followed a similar pattern with a further three goals.
At the final whistle, the spectators rightly acknowledged the display they had witnessed.
Rogge said: “My performance today was quite good, much better than yesterday. I had some very unlucky shots in the beginning (in Tuesday’s opening game against Spain) so the coach just threw me out of the court. We had a long conversation in the evening and he told me my time would come. And I think against Belgium it was time, it was pretty awesome.
“To play infront of such a huge and nice cheering crowd is something new for me. It’s motivating for me, it fires me up a lot and I’m glad they are here.”
Belgium’s overall record for the first day of group games was one loss and one win as the side overcame Czech Republic earlier in the day 8-5.
Finland beat Spain 11-5 before reaching exactly the same scoreline against the Czech Republic.
A brilliant first half display set Finland on their way with a hat-trick from Erkki Miinala helping them to a 6-1 lead at the break.
They were also indebted to Ehsan Zoveidavi for two fantastic blocks, pushing efforts onto the post and the bar.
The second half was a quieter affair but Czech Republic fought back to 5-8 after conceding early.
However they could not complete the turnaround as Finland finished with a flourish, scoring three more.
Finland's Miika Honkanen was not worried about the Czech fightback saying: “We had a good performance today. There was a big lead in the first half but in the second half, they came up a bit close but we managed to be humble and make a good defence.
“We have been in this situation before and have different tactics for when we lead and we have to make the game comfortable for us.”
Men – Pool A
Ukraine managed a double win to open their Rostock 2019 campaign, securing 10-goals victories over Turkey and Sweden.
But Turkey did record their first win of the competition beating Greece 13-6.
In an entertaining first half, Turkey surged into an early two goal lead.
However, Greece would not go quietly and kept themselves in the contest thanks to Altin Leshi and Charalampos Kordakis.
Turkey then raced into a three goal lead thanks to a quickfire hat-trick.
Athanasios Chatzipandou got Greece back to within one but they trailed 5-6 at the break.
Greece were put under heavy pressure early in the second half and the deficit grew by one more.
They managed to get on the scoreboard in the second period but Turkey struck six more times to seal a comfortable win.
Over at the OSPA-Arena defending champions Lithuania recorded a convincing 17-7 win over Greece to start their competition in the right way.
They then recorded their second victory of the day with a 14-4 win over Sweden.
The damage was done in the first half when the Paralympic champions put eight past their opponents.
Mantas Panovas was the scorer of six of their goals.
The second half saw Lithuania net six more as they eased to their second victory.
Ten men’s and 10 women’s teams from 15 countries are going for titles in Rostock, with the added bonus of Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games slots for those teams not already qualified.

The competition is being shown live on the IBSA YouTube channel and IBSA Goalball Facebook.
The 2019 IBSA Goalball European Championships Group A begin with three days of group games between 8-10 October. The quarter-finals for both men’s and women’s take place on 11 October followed by the semi-finals on 12 October.

The medal games conclude competition on Sunday 13 October.

Games are taking place in two venues: The Rostock Stadthalle and OSPA Arena with Stadthalle staging the finals.

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