Great Britain shocked Israel to secure a monumental top-8 finish for the first time in ten years as the tournament now progresses to the quarter-final stage.
Team GB maintained their composure in a dramatic penalty shoot-out after a truly thrilling contest, becoming the only Division 2 side to feature in the quarter-finals.
Elsewhere, there were no surprises – Croatia nearly stumbled against Serbia but held firm, while France dominated Germany, and Hungary breezed past Czechia.
The top two teams in the world and Europe – Spaina and the Netherlands – have relatively comfortable opponents in the final eight. It’s challenging to envision Spain falling to Croatia or the World Champions being defeated by Great Britain, regardless of how well the Brits have played in Eindhoven.
The real intrigue lies in the match-ups between Greece and France, and Italy and Hungary. While Greece is favored to defeat France, the French have progressively closed the gap in every encounter over the last year, making an upset a possibility. The Italy vs Hungary clash will be the tightest of the quarter-finals, although Italy hopes to capitalize on having shown better current form than their opponents.
Day 5 Fixtures* (9th January)
Quarter-final – Spain vs Croatia
Quarter-final – Netherlands vs Great Britain
Quarter-final – Greece vs France
Quarter-final – Italy vs Hungary
9-12 Semi-final – Serbia vs Germany
9-12 Semi-final – Israel vs Czechia
13th-place final – Turkiye vs Romania
15th-place final – Slovakia vs Bulgaria
2024 European Women’s Championships, Day 4
Great Britain’s women’s team rightfully takes the headlines today, securing a victory over Israel to advance into the quarter-finals, where they’ll face the hosts and world champions, Netherlands.
It was a remarkably gutsy and brave performance from Team GB, who never held the lead in the game. However, they displayed great spirit and the togetherness seen all week in Eindhoven; every time Israel seemed poised to pull away, the Brits were right there on their heels.
All of the British players converted their penalties, while Sophie Jackson, formerly of Michigan Wolverines, made a crucial save in the shoot-out.
Team GB excelled in extra-player attacks (3/3), with their coach Nick Buller showcasing a full repertoire of powerplay set plays. Much credit goes to Toula Falvey, who grew into the game and scored three goals, as well as Lily Turner, who is gradually emerging as one of Europe’s top hidden talents.
It’s a significant result for the women’s game in the United Kingdom, which has always had a strong women’s team but has long been hindered by a lack of organisation, resources and funding from its national governing body.
Israel will regret not advancing to the quarter-finals. They will not qualify for Doha (even if they would choose not go), and therefore any outside hope of qualifying for Paris 2024 is now dashed for this group of players. Finishing ninth is now a minimum expectation.
Meanwhile, Serbia missed a significant opportunity to reach the quarter-finals of the European Championships, squandering a three-goal lead against Croatia, who mounted a brilliant comeback to secure a dramatic 11-8 victory.
Serbia started exceptionally well, led by an Ana Milcevic hat-trick, advancing to a 7-4 lead into the third quarter. However, two goals before and after the third-quarter break from the Croatians completely shifted the momentum in their favor. Serbia’s attack faltered, and although Milicevic added her fourth goal to level the score with three minutes to play (8-8), Croatia’s youngsters Iva Rozic and Jelena Butic showcased their class when it mattered, sealing the win for Croatia.
It hasn’t been a stellar tournament for Croatia thus far, but they deserve credit in this match for digging in deep and securing the win when it mattered. They have now achieved consecutive eighth-place finishes for the first time, testiment to the development of the women’s game in the country.
France made absolutely sure they would be in the final-eight, defeating Germany 14-6. With qualifying for Doha priority number one, there isn’t any pressure on them to defeat Greece tomorrow in the quarter-finals. Still, they could definitely cause an upset.
Camelia Boloukbachi was in fine form, scoring five goals in the first half, and putting in a good defensive shift without the ball (3 steals, 2 blocks).
Hungary probably shouldn’t have conceeded at all in their match against Czechia, but at least managed a clean sheet in the second half.
They needed to expend little to no energy to defeat Czechia, and rested the likes of Rita Keszthelyi and Greta Gurisatti. Kamilla Farago and Dorka Szilagyi both scored four – every otufield Magyar netted at least once.
Romania and Turkiye are set to meet for the second time in Eindhoven, having both advanced to the 13th-place final.
Led by seven goals from the Division 2 top goal-scorer, Alina Olteanu, Romania outscored neighboring Bulgaria at a rate of 3 to 1, securing an 18-6 victory. Meanwhile, Turkiye, fueled by a six-goal contribution from Jubra Kis and five goals from Dilara Burali, clinched a hard-fought win over Slovakia.
Having narrowly edged Romania 9-7 in their Group C match yesterday, Turkiye hopes for a repeat outcome in the rematch. The game is sure to have intense moments, with both teams vying for a 13th-place finish.
Slovakia is expected to defeat Bulgaria in another group stage rematch, competing in the 15th-place final tomorrow morning.
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