Women’s competition heats up at goalball Euros
Date: November 6, 2021
The women’s competition at the 2021 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball European Championships A in Samsun, Turkey, delivered some thrilling games on Saturday (6 November).
Some incredibly close scorelines highlighted the results on day two of group play.
The competition is available live at goalball.sport between 5-12 November. The schedule and results are available at the Championships website here.
Paralympic champions Turkey were once again triumphant, but only managed a one goal difference in their 2-1 win over world title holders Russia.
Sevda Altunoluk delivered the first goal for the hosts in the first minute but the Russians kept their defence tight, only allowing one more goal through in the first half. Unfortunately for the visitors, the Turkish line was even tighter.
The half-time buzzer seemed to spur Russia into an even stronger defence that even Altunoluk – the top scorer from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics – could not breach again.
Russia managed to find their way past Turkey with just over two minutes left on the clock, courtesy of Irina Arestova, to bring the score to 2-1. But a comeback was not to be and the match ended with a second victory of the tournament for the Tokyo gold medallists.
The atmosphere was even more tense in the game between Denmark and Great Britain.
Denmark appeared to be the stronger side early on, scoring two goals within just over a minute. Anja Christensen and Hava Fener were the scorers.
But Great Britain strengthened their resolve as Kali Holder and Antonia Bunyan struck within 20 seconds of each other to bring the scores level at half time.
Christensen stepped-up to hand the Danes the lead after the break but Georgie Bullen was not going to let them pull away. Bunyan then helped Great Britain claim the advantage.
With the clock ticking down, Christensen stole the hopes of a first win for the British to bring the score to 4-4 with a minute left on the clock.
The German women were delighted with their 7-5 win over France.
Five goals came from Charlotte Karcher and one from Pia Knaute in the first half as Germany shook-off their goal-less draw against Greece from the previous day.
Audrey Belkhir tried to stay in touch with three goals of her own, before adding two more in the second half, but the damage was already done.
Israel executed a strong 11-1 mercy win over Ukraine in the final women’s match of the day. Lihi Ben David and Ori Mizrahi lead the scoring for the 2019 silver medallists.
At the end of day two Turkey and Israel lead their respective groups with six points.
Not to be outdone, the men also delivered some close matches on Saturday.
Montenegro kept Turkey on their toes with a second half performance that put pressure on the hosts.
After four goals from Tuncay Karakaya and only two in reply from Montenegro in the first half, Montenegro came out fighting at the whistle.
Marko Nikolic was the first to score, shaking the Turkish defence. More than five minutes passed before Karakaya could restore Turkey’s two goal buffer.
Nikolic had an answer, grabbing a hat-trick. But Karakaya’s form shone through with just 49 seconds left of the match. Montenegro had nowhere else to go and the clash ended 6-4.
Tokyo 2020 bronze medallists Lithuania successfully preserved their unbeaten record in a high-scoring game against Russia.
But Lithuania were put under extreme pressure by the Russians. After a first half that ended just 3-2 to their advantage, the Lithuanians saw their lead disappear as Mikhail Egorov and Ivan Antonenko joined forces to give Russia a two goal lead.
Unnerved by the turn of events Lithuania looked to Nerijus Montvydas, Arturas Jonikaitis and Normantas Prusinskas. The trio were relentless in their attack, peppering the Russian net with seven goals without reply.
Montvydas was the top scorer with seven of his team’s 11 goals.
Ukraine just edged past Belgium with a 3-2 win in the opening match of the day.
Tom Vanhove starred in the Belgian attack, giving his side the lead twice in the first half after Vasyl Oliinyk got one back for Ukraine.
But Ukraine’s not-so-secret weapon Rodion Zhyhalin was waiting in the wings. Zhyhalin came out in the second half to score two and seal the win.
Finland fell 10-3 to defending champions Germany.
Michael Dennis made a storming return from an illness that put him out of contention for Germany’s opening match on Friday, netting six goals.
Germany and Turkey are currently level on points and goal difference in their group. Lithuania lead the other men’s group, but Ukraine also have six points.
Pool play continues in Samsun until 9 November ahead of the quarter-finals on 10 November. Semi-finals and placement games for fifth-eighth place are on 11 November. The medal matches are on 12 November.