The Olympic qualifications in Rotterdam have been opened today by a few interesting games. Three matches were very close contests. A single goal decided a winner in each of these three encounters.
In Group A, Greece didn’t have an easy task against Georgia, but it recorded a narrow win (11:10). Canada defeated Brazil. As we already reported, the third game of the day in this group Montenegro-Turkey has been canceled. The Turks have been disqualified and have to go home because of the coronavirus cases.
Croatia cruised to a win over Romania in Group B, while the Netherlands edged out Germany 11:10. In the last match of the day, Russia defeated France 13:12 after a hard battle.
Day 1 – Group A: Georgia – Greece 10:11, Canada – Brazil 11:7, Montenegro bye. Group B: Netherlands – Germany 11:10, Croatia – Romania 16:6, France – Russia 12:13.
Men’s Olympic Qualifications, Rotterdam, Day 1
Georgia – Greece 10:11 (2:3, 3:5, 5:2, 0:1)
Georgia: Elez 4, Baraldi 2, Vapenski 2, Shushiashvili 1, Dadvani 1.
Greece: Fountoulis 5, Skoumpakis 1, Papanastasiou 1, Argyropoulos 1, Mourikis 1, Kolomvos 1, Vlachopoulos 1.
Greece, one of the favorites, survived real drama to defeat Georgia. The Greeks earned an early 2:0 lead, but Georgia kept up with Greece until the middle of the second quarter (4:6). Then, Ioannis Fountoulis scored two goals within 22 seconds (from an extra player shot and a counter attack) to give Greece an 8:4 lead. It seemed that his team started breaking the opponent’s resistance, but Georgia, led by Marko Elez, managed to come back.
At halftime, Konstantinos Galandis replaced Emmanouil Zerdevas in front of the Greeks’ goal.
Georgia dictated the pace in the third quarter. They reduced the gap to one twice (7:8, 8:9). Konstantinos Mourikis scored an action goal for 10:8. But, the Greeks got nervous, they started missing chances, and they paid for that. Just 23 seconds before the last break, Marko Elez scored his 4th goal to level the score 10:10.
In the first possession in the fourth period, Georgia had a chance to take the lead with a man-up, but Galanidis saved the shot. Five minutes and nine seconds of the end, Ioannis Fountoulis scored his 5th goal, and Greece regained a lead (11:10). In the remaining time, both defenses did a good job. Shortly before the end, the Georgians had the last chance to earn a point, but they failed. After their bad pass, Greece kept the ball in the remaining 29 seconds.
Canada – Brazil 11:7 (4:3, 1:1, 3:2, 3:1)
Canada: Constantin-BIcari 2, Torakis 2, Cote 2, Spooner 2, Gardijan 2, Patterson 1.
Brazil: Real Vergara 2, Freitas 1, B. Gomes 1, G. Gomes 1, Franco 1, G. Guimaraes 1.
The only two non-European teams in the Rotterdam tournament faced each other already on Day 1. Canada defeated Brazil and it now has nice chances to reach the quarterfinals. The Canadians took a flying start. After two and a half minutes of play, they led 3:0. Brazil responded in the same manner, with three quick goals and equalized (3:3). However, Canada’s Jeremie Cote converted a man-up into a 4:3 lead just a second before the end of the 1st quarter.
Gustavo Guimaraes “Grummy” opened the second quarter with a goal for 4:4 and Brazil equalized for the last time.
From that point on, the Canadians controlled the match. In the third quarter, they earned a 3-goal lead (7:4). The South Americans cut the deficit (6:7) 02:28 minutes before the end of the third period. But, Canada kept Brazil goalless in the following eight minutes, while it produced a 3:0 series, for a safe 10:6 lead.
Netherlands – Germany 11:10 (5:2, 3:2, 2:2, 1:4)
Netherlands: Muller 4,Veenhuis 3, Lucas 2, Nispeling 1, WInkelhorst 1.
Germany: Real 3, Schuetze 2, Strelezkij 2, Stamm 2, Gielen 1.
The Netherlands dominated the first half and that proved crucial for the outcome. After the middle break, the Germans put a lot of effort to come back, but they left the pool empty-handed.
The Dutch had a 5:2 advantage after the first quarter, and they ruled the field in the second period. The hosts jumped to an 8:2 lead in the 15th minute. Jorn Muller scored four of these eight Dutch’s goals. The home team’s captain and goalkeeper Eelco Wagenaar also did a good job with seven saves in the first half (he collected a total of 12 saves in the match).
Germany started coming back with two goals in the last 36 seconds of the second quarter (4:8). Still, the Dutch built a 5-goal lead in the third period (9:4 and 10:5). But the Germans never give up and fight until the end. They produced a 4:0 series and came very close (9:10) with 03:47 minutes to go when Denis Strelezkij found the net. But, Thomas Lucas responded immediately by converting a man-up for 11:9. In the next possession, left-handed Fynn Schuetze scored for 10:11. In the remaining 02:51 minutes, there were a few chances on both sides of the pool, but there were no goals and the Dutch celebrated a valuable victory.
Croatia proved too strong for Romania. The silver medalists from the previous Olympic Games played very well in defense today. By the first break, the Croats earned a 5:1 lead. In the next eight minutes, they stretched the margin to six (8:2). The Romanians opened the third period with two goals (4:8), but Croatia didn’t let them go further. Croatia scored seven unanswered goals and went up 15:4 with 03:53 minutes remaining on the clock.
Croatia – Romania 16:6 (5:1, 3:1, 4:2, 4:2)
Croatia: Buric 3, Milos 2, Macan 2, Fatovic 2, Loncar 2, Jokovic 2, Bukic 1, Vukicevic 1, Garcia 1.
Romania:Fulea 2, V. Georgescu 2, Radu 1, Antipa 1.
Croatia proved too strong for Romania. The silver medalists from the previous Olympic Games played very well in defense today. By the first break, the Croats earned a 5:1 lead. In the next eight minutes they stretched the margin to six (8:2). The Romanians opened the third period with two goals (4:8), but Croatia didn’t let them go further. Croatia scored seven unanswered goals and earned a 15:4 advantage with 03:53 minutes remaining on the clock. After that, Romania scored two goals but it didn’t avoid a defeat with a double digit margin. Ten seconds from the end, Elvis Fatovic found the net after a counter attack to set the final score- 16:6. A 24-year-old Rino Buric, the youngest in the Croatian team, was the best scorer with 3 goals.
France – Russia 12:13 (2:3, 2:4, 5:3, 3:3)
France:Crousillat 5, Marzouki 3, Vernoux 2, Marion-Vernoux 1, Khasz 1.
Russia: Nagaev 4, Kharkov 3, Suchkov 2, Shepelev 2, Lisunov 1, Kholod 1.
Russia was a slight favorite against France, but the Russians had to battle hard for three points.
The encounter was an even contest until 3:3. Russia was the team that was taking the lead, but the French equalized three times. Russia produced a stunning 4:0 series in a span of just 02:19 minutes. They scored three consecutive goals with a power-play advantage, while Ivan Nagaev closed the series with a goal from a counter-attack and the Russians jumped to a 7:3 lead a minute before the middle break. However, France was able to strike back. Led by a left-handed captain Ugo Crousillat, France caught up with the rival in the 3rd minute of the third period – 7:7. After that, the match re-entered the rhythm as it was in the opening minutes. The new exchange of goals started, Russia was earning the lead (8:7, 9:8), but the French equalized on both occasions. Ivan Suchkov gave Russia a new slim lead (10:9) forty seconds before the end of the third quarter.
France opened the fourth quarter well. In the 26th minute, Edo Khasz converted a man-up, and France, finally, went in front – 11:10. But, not for a long time, since the Russians quickly responded with two goals and retook the lead (12:11) with six minutes to go. Vernoux equalized from an extra player shot in the middle of the final quarter. Immediately after, Russians earned a power-play advantage and they didn’t miss a chance. Konstantin Kharkov hit the back of the net for 13:12 with 03:35 to go. France’s last opportunity to secure a point was Mehdi Marzouki’s long-distance shot 15 seconds before the final buzzer, but an experienced player hit the post.
Day 2 (February 15)
Greece – Brazil (16:00)
Montenegro – Canada (17.30)
Romania – Russia (13:00)
Germany – France (14:30)
Croatia – Netherlands (19:00)