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Date: 5/25/2012

One surprise, one expected clear win: The women’s teams of the Netherlands and host Spain have started their “mission London” successfully at the Olympic Qualification tournament in Guadalajara.
Croatia vs. Netherlands 28:29 (12:14)
The tournament in Guadalajara started with a surprise, as the favoured team from Croatia unluckily lost against their European opponent from the Netherlands. The game was something like a private duel of Lois Abbingh (Netherlands), who scored ten goals, and Maja Zebic. But even eleven goals of the Croatian top scorer could not avoid the opening defeat, which puts the Balkan team under pressure in their upcoming games.
The close Dutch victory was deserved as after the 5:4 and only except the 21:21 the team of coach Henk Groener had been leading all the time. The Croats started better, but thanks to four consecutive goals Netherlands turned the game in the middle of the first half. Having their strongest period right after the break, the Dutch extended the gap to the one and only time four goals distance at 18:14 in minute 35. The Croats equalized again but in the thrilling final stage Netherlands decided the game only 65 seconds before the end, when Debbie Bont scored the 29:27, Penezic’s final goal was not enough to equalize.

Statements after the match:
Vladimir Canjuga, head coach Croatia: We didn’t play our best and we can only congratulate Netherlands to their victory. We expected to play as we played against Denmark in the EURO qualification phase. The defence was weak, and we did not play well at all in the last 10 minutes, too.

Maja Zebic, player Croatia: We didn’t do as well as we can and we paid the price. We hope to win the rest of the matches to go to London.

Henk Groener, head coach Netherlands: We are happy to start well, we know the high level Croatia can play, they showed it today, and we are so lucky as we played our best and seize the opportunities we had at the final stage of the match. Tomorrow we have a great and difficult match ahead against Spain, a much stronger team than Croatia and we will have to do our best in every aspect to have any chances of winning.

Cornelia Groot, player Netherlands: We played a very solid game and this helped us to achieve the victory. We played with a lot of confidence.

Spain vs. Argentina 31:15 (15:9)
Easy task for host Spain against the chanceless Pan Americans: As expected the Iberians dominated the game from the first to the last minute, extending the gap constantly goal by goal after a brilliant starting 9:1 series. At least then Argentina woke up, found their pace but did not have the means to stop the Spaniards. In minute 38 the distance was ten goals for the first time at 21:11 – and then the Pan Americans lacked the power to keep their resistance alive. With a series of 11:3 goals Spain extended the gap from 17:10 to 28:13 with the guest scoring only three goals in 21 minutes. Top scorers were Marta Mangue (six goals for Spain) and Luciana Salvado and Magdalena Decilio with each four goals for Argentina.

Statements after the match:
Miguel Angel Interllige, coach Argentina: We need more high level competitions to be able to catch up with the top teams. In the first half we were more accurate, most of all in the final part, but in the second half we were not so smooth and this pays off against a team like Spain.

Luciana Salvado, player Argentina: We did a great first half but we played against a very strong rival that we didn’t know how to battle them. We lack international experience.

Jorge Duenas, coach Spain: It was a difficult match because it was the opener in this competition. We started focused in defence and attacked really fast, but they managed to pass on their slow game to us. It was not a good first half but the second part we were accurate and we achieved to win with relative tranquility.

Macarena Aguillar, player Spain: I was a little bit scared before, but after this victory I am fine. It is important to start the competition successful, we had a lot of nerves and pressure playing at home. It was a great start and we will increase the rhythm little by little.