Main Round Group II
Håkons Hall, Lillehammer (NOR)
Ukraine - Norway
The joint-hosts of EHF EURO 2010 did not have any problems with the Ukraine this evening at the Hakons Hall in Lillehammer, Norway, as they returned to winning ways, running out 32:19 (13:6) winners in their second Group II match in the Main Round.
With six points in their account now they are equal with Sweden, who they lost to on Sunday night with a depleted squad thanks to a stomach virus.
A draw against the Netherlands tomorrow night is enough to qualify for the semi-finals - and under special circumstances they can even lose against the Dutch and still move on to Herning for the Final Round.
”We are going into the match against the Netherlands to beat them for sure,” said pivot Heidi Løke after the match.
”One defeat is enough and we will try to become number one in our group, even though this depends on the last Swedish result against Hungary.”
The situation is pure mathematics before the last match day tomorrow in Group II, but for Sweden and Norway qualification it is theirs to lose.
Both teams can go through with a draw, whilst France, Hungary and the Netherlands need to win and count on other results.
Norway could again count on Løke and Kari Mette Johansen, who had to miss the game against Sweden due to that virus and Løke showed her class early on in the first half with four goals from four attempts and top-scored for her side with six goals by the final whistle.
The joint-hosts did have some starting problems though as by the 11th minute the Ukraine led 4:3 - but coach Thorir Hergeirsson took a time out to wake his side up and they reacted in the best possible manner by scoring an incredible 10:2 series of goals and distancing themselves from their opponents to tie up the outcome of the match by half-time.
The Ukrainians could not cope with the fast breaks of Løke, Camilla Herrem and their teammates as the Norwegians punished every Ukrainian mistake directly with a goal.
After the break it only took nine minutes for the hosts to go clear by ten goals at 18:8 and it could have been much more, if Ukrainian goalkeepers Maryna Vlasenko and Natalya Parhomenko had not been on the same great levels as their counterpart in the Norwegian goal, Katrine Lunde-Haraldsen.
The performance this evening has highlighted the Norwegian´s ambition to win a fourth consecutive EHF EURO title and that the 24:19 defeat they suffered against Sweden would be their only failure.
In the last 20 minutes Norwegian key players saved energy as Hergeirsson changed his team completely - but the level of performance did not decrease as the 55th minute saw his side go 13 goals clear.
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