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Date: 4/12/2016

Review: 2016 IHF Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament II – Malmo, Sweden

Slovenia and Sweden qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games from the IHF Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament II held at the Malmo Arena in Malmo, Sweden.

For full statistics, reports and pictures, visit the Malmo mini-site HERE.

Match Day 1

Spain vs. Slovenia 21:24 (16:12)
In what would prove to be the deciding match of the weekend in many ways, it took almost two minutes for the ball to hit the back of the net for the first time in a low-scoring opening period.

After five minutes Spain were two in front at 3:1, but Slovenia slowly warmed up to equalise at 3:3 before right wing Gasper Marguc capitalised on a six-on-five advantage to claim the lead in the ninth (4:3).

When Slovenia had pulled ahead to a 5:3 advantage in the 10th Spain coach Manuel Cadenas called his first time-out, and his team were the next on the board with another penalty goal from Rivera.

From that point Spain chased as Slovenia’s one-goal advantage persisted, until midway through the half and then they reclaimed the lead going into the break with a four-goal lead which they held (19:15) until the 40th minute.

Slovenia made the most of numerical advantage due to Spanish suspensions and closed the gap to 19:17 but with less than 10 minutes left it was all-square (20:20).

As the match entered its last five minutes Dean Bombac helped to put Slovenia up by three (23:20) which was enough to see the game out.

Best Player of the Match presented by adidas: TBC

Iran vs. Sweden 19:34 (9:16)
Sweden entered this match as the strong favourites and were quick to confirm that role, though it was not without a fight from Iran, who kept pace reasonably well through the opening minutes.

After 12 minutes Sweden had opened up a five-goal advantage at 8:3, and extended it to seven at the break. Swedish coaches Ola Lindgren and Staffan Olsson saw the home side increase to 13 (27:14) with 15 minutes left which would prove impossible for Iran to overcome.

Best Player of the Match, presented by adidas:  TBC

Match Day 2

Spain vs. Iran 37:23 (18:12)
The first match of the day in Malmö began with a tightly-contested first half before Spain found their opponent’s biggest weakness and scorched ahead to win by a decisive 14 goals.

Iran kept pace initially but after 10 minutes of play the 2013 IHF World Champions had pulled ahead to a three-goal lead which only extended as the match continued with those watching treated to a showcase of Spain’s best fast breaks, as the European team caused turnovers with their offensive defence and streaked ahead.

Iran goalkeeper Mohammad Siavoshishahenayati made some exceptional saves, but Spain celebrated a 14-goal win at the final buzzer.

Best Player of the Match, presented by Adidas: Cristian UGALDE (ESP) - Left Wing

Slovenia vs Sweden 23:24 (9:12)

The final score line of one goal reflects the close nature of the match from the first whistle to the last.

Both teams used a lot of energy to find ways through their opponent’s strong defence in the first period, as it seemed neither was able to score until the other was one player down but t was the home side who had the lead at the break.

Slovenia began the second half at a higher tempo than the first, scoring three goals in the first few minutes to narrow the margin to 12:13 and from that point it was a one-for-one game with Sweden maintaining a slight edge which they kept until the final buzzer, despite captain Tobias Karlsson receiving a two-minute suspension with just over two minutes left.

As the match entered the final minute with a level score of 23:23. Kim Andersson was the hero who took Sweden in front to 24:23 with just over 30 seconds left on the clock, and neither side were able to find the back of the net again, making Andersson’s goal the match winner.

Best Player of the Match, presented by adidas: Kim ANDERSSON (SWE) - Right Back

Match Day 3

Sweden vs Spain 23:25 (11:12)
In probably the tensest match of all Rio 2016 qualifiers, Spain started the match knowing they had to win by three goals or more in order to qualify as they wasted no time racing ahead to a 5:2 advantage after seven minutes.

But Swedish goalkeeper Mattias Andersson seemed to adjust to Spain’s rhythm and began to stop the visiting team’s shots, allowing Sweden to slowly close the gap to one where it stayed until half-time.

As the game entered the crucial second half, tension in Malmo Arena ran high and the level score line remained. Kallman was hit in the face on a ground shot when the score was equal at 17:17 in the 40th, and his injury was severe enough that he had to return to the bench for treatment while the score remained locked until the clock moved into the final 15 minutes.

Both teams hit the net to put the score at 18:18 before Kim Andersson and Julen Aguinagalde received simultaneous two-minute suspensions. Spain were the first to capitalise with a goal from Jorge Maqueda (18:19, 48th), and the visitors maintained that same lead until the 52nd minute when Mattias Andersson made a crucial save. But it was Valero Rivera who scored next on a fast break that put Spain in front 21:19 in the 52nd.

Spain hit the three-goal advantage they needed with a Raul Entrerrios goal in the 55th (23:20), immediately followed by a superb wing save from Perez de Vargas after Sweden pushed a fast restart. Spain continued their run with an outside goal from Maqueda taking the score to 24:20 with just over three minutes remaining, and the team knew they were close to exactly the victory they needed.

But Sweden decreased the difference to a dangerous three goals before receiving a two-minute suspension. Despite the numerical deficit Kim Andersson scored a ground shot that closed the gap to 22:24, and when Spain lost the ball in their next attack with only 70 seconds left they knew Rio was in doubt.

Spain found the goal again to create the three-goal advantage they needed at 25:22, and with 15 seconds left on the clock only had to keep Sweden from scoring until the buzzer. Perez de Vargas rose to the occasion with an outstanding save off a breakthrough shot but Sweden were awarded a penalty, which Ekberg converted resulting in thunderous applause throughout the arena as the home team’s place at Rio 2016 was confirmed.

Best Player of the Match, presented by adidas:  TBC

Slovenia vs Iran 33:17 (17:8)
Slovenia wasted no time showing their superiority as they quickly took control to create a 3:1 advantage after five minutes of play.

Though Slovenia maintained an edge Iran’s offensive defence made their job difficult, and the Asian team were able to slowly close the gap to 6:6 by the 14th minute, but once Slovenia created another two-goal advantage they did not look back and the match was long-decided before the final buzzer sounded to show a decisive 16-goal win for the European team who finished top of the group, ahead of Sweden.

Best Player of the Match, presented by adidas:  TBC

Statistics – 2016 IHF Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament II – Malmo, Sweden

Best Attack (Goals Scored): 83 (ESP)
Highest Amount of Shots: 145 (IRI)
Best Defence (Goals Conceded): 62 (SLO)
Most Shots Faced: 136 (IRI)
Most Shots Saved: 37 (SWE)
Best Goalkeeper: Gorazd SKOF (SLO) 41% save ratio (14/34)
Top Scorer: Valero RIVERA (ESP) – 19
Top Assists: Jim GOTTFRIDSSON (SWE) – 12
Top Scorer + Assists: Jim GOTTFRIDSSON (SWE) – 21

Photos: Svensk Handboll