© David Damnjanović

Hungary strike back for gold

On opening day Netherlands and Hungary met. The Dutch secured a convincing 14-10 win. On the final day of the women's championship Hungary struck back. In the gold medal match two goals by centre forward Ildiko Toth secured a 7-9 win for Hungary who are the 2016 European champions and have qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The Netherlands meanwhile will go on to the global qualification tournament, held at home in Gouda from March 21-28.
The final was a physical one. The Hungarians clearly came out different compared to the teams group stage meeting on day 1. The Netherlands looked nervous and fell behind 3 times already in the opening quarter. However on every occasion they managed to tie again, including a goal by Dutch captain Yasemin Smit in the buzzer for the 3-3 score at quarter time.
The Dutch turned it around in the second term, although the margins remained incredibly small, and goals were few, like expected in a final. Hits by Smit and Dagmar Genee had the Netherlands leading 5-4 at half-time. Another story however started to unfold. Coach Arno Havenga saw his women taking more shots but being bothered by the strong Hungarian defence and even more goalkeeper Edina Gangl who more and more put her mark on the game. It became clear in the second half where the teams remained utterly close exchanging goals without any side able to already force a decision on the outcome. That decision came in the final period.
With Dutch shooters Lieke Klaassen and Maud Megens out on 3 personal fouls, the team lost offensive shot power and more and more were held away from the Hungarian goal. In the final minutes though several opportunities arose on extra man but all were denied by the Hungarian defence. On the other end Hungary had their trouble finding their way through the Dutch team but managed to do so twice. And twice it was Ildiko Toth who did it. First she struck from the centre-forward position, heavily guarded, with just under 5 minutes remaining to put Hungary in the lead 7-8. And when the Dutch remained scoreless in the next 4 minutes, she delivered the dagger. When the shotclock expired she got a good pass from team-mate Gabriella Szücs and made use of the smaller Nomi Stomphorst guarding her to score and decide the outcome as just 47 seconds remained on the game clock. The Netherlands went into attack and even got an extra man but Sabrina van der Sloot, Hungarian champion with Szentes last season, saw her shot being saved so that celebrations on Hungarian side got started. After claiming bronze 2 years ago at the 2014 European Championships in Budapest the team, with new head coach Attila Biró, claimed the gold. And on top of that, the Magyars qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Photo: David Damnjanovic.

2016 European Championships individual awards

Top scorer: Rita Keszthelyi (HUN) 23 goals
Most Valuable Player (MVP): Yasemin Smit (NED)
Best goalkeeper: Edina Gangl (HUN)

Spain vs. Italy (bronze medal match)

The bronze medal of the 2016 women's European Championships was won by Italy on Friday. After finishing 4th in Budapest 2 years ago, the Fabio Conti coached squad this time managed to win the bronze medal match, holding off Spain 9-10. In a tough match-up the Italian women held on to several late attempts by the Spaniards to equalise after Roberta Bianconi had scored what proved to be the winning goal with over a minute remaining.
Earlier the period Bianconi had completed a turnaround in the score putting Italy up 7-9 from a 7-6 deficit late 3rd quarter. Spain then tried for a comeback for several minutes and only succeeded with 2 minutes remaining. But the response was big. Beatriz Ortiz and 20 seconds later, Pilar Peña, on a counter attack, hit and brought Spain fully back in it. It turned out to no avail as Bianconi got Italy up again and this time for good. The Italians set up a tight and physical defence that got Spain to just 2 more attempts but finally Roser Tarrago, who had a good look from 5 meter out, could not score and so Italy held on for the win celebrating their bronze medal win.

Photo: David Damnjanovic.

Malta vs. Turkey

In a historic win debutants Malta finished in 15th place at the 2016 European Championships edging Turkey 14-13 on penalties. After a tournament of hard work, new experience and defeats, the reward came in the final match. A close game with Turkey, who equalised 4 minutes before the end of regulation, and a tense final phase, was concluded with winning the penalty series 4-3. Fittingly Malta top scorer Steven Camilleri (pictured) scored the decisive penalty shot giving his team their first win of the tournament they played for the first time. But just at the right moment. Turkey meanwhile, missing their top scorer Srdjan Aksentijevic in the penalty series after he was excluded with over a minute left in regulation, take 16th and last place. The Turks actually had the lead in the shootout after both first attempts were missed, and Oytun Okman hit his one (10-11) but later on saw his team-mate Halil Beskardesler missing against Nicholas Grixti. Two shots later, Steven Camilleri stepped up draining the decisive and last attempt of the series for the 14-13 final score.

Slovakia vs. Georgia

Slovakia grabbed 13th place in another close match on display at the Kombank Arena on Friday, decided by Slovakia captain Juraj Zatovic who hit from extra man with just 14 seconds on the clock. In fact the Slovakians scored the game's final two goal to overcame a 8-9 deficit after Marko Jelaca converted a penalty shot for Georgia. First Maros Tkac struck from man-up and in the final attack for Slovakia Zatovic did the same hitting over his defender when time was running out on extra man. Therewith he decided a game that saw 2-goal differences just on a pair of occasions and for the rest was always close. Slovakia, returning to the European Championships since 2008 (12th place), now conclude their campaign in 13th place while Georgia settles for 14th.

Turkey vs. Croatia

Finishing 11th in the women's competition was Croatia who defeated Turkey 4-12 in a clear win. After the levelled opening quarter the Croatian ladies started to walk away and comfortably could play out the match avoiding to finish last while debutants Turkey had to settle for 12th.

Portugal vs. Serbia

The Serbian women gave the fans something to cheer for taking 9th place while finishing the tournament with a win. Portugal were not particularly blown away but could never endanger the home team in a 6-9 loss. A pair of unanswered goals in the third period by Serbia determined the outcome in their favour.

Germany vs. France

Taking 7th place were France who overcame an early 4-1 deficit to beat Germany 9-13. Therewith the French grabbed the final spot that was available for the Olympic qualification tournament, to be held in Gouda, Netherlands late March. France needed a strong 2nd quarter to turn things around and di so by scoring 6 goals. The French had the lead but the score remained close in the third term. Finally however in the 4th quarter the French could decide the match-up by netting a pair of unanswered shots. Lea Bachelier and Louise Guillet came up big combining for 6 of the team's 13 goals in the win.

2016 European Championships
Belgrade (SRB)

Kombank Arena

Programme and results

Friday, January 22:

Malta vs. Turkey 14-13 (3-3, 2-0, 3-5, 2-2; penalties: 4-3) - men (15th/16th place classification)
Malta scorers: Steven Camilleri 4, Aurelien Cousin 2, Mark Meli, Matthew Zammit, John Brownrigg.

Turkey scorers: Srdjan Aksentijevic 3, Osman Gulenc 2, Oytun Okman, Cemil Ozbakis, Ali Can Yilmaz.

Slovakia vs. Georgia 10-9 (2-2, 1-2, 4-4, 3-1) - men (13th/14th place classification)
Slovakia scorers: Juraj Zatovic 3, Maros Tkac 2, Martin Famera 2, Luka Duric, Lukas Seman, Tomas Bruder.

Georgia scorers: Beka Kavtaradze 2, Marko Jelaca 2, Marko Elez, Andria Bitadze, Mikheil Baghaturia, Zurab Rurua, Konstantine Gegelashvili.

Turkey vs. Croatia 4-12 (1-1, 0-4, 1-2, 2-5) - women (11th/12th place classification)
Turkey scorers: Kubra Kus 2, Yagmur Elma, Reyhan Acar.

Croatia scorers: Petra Bukic 3, Emmi Miljkovic 2, Dina Lordan 2, Domina Butic 2, Ivana Butic 2, Tereza Balic.

Portugal vs. Serbia 6-9 (1-3, 3-3, 0-2, 2-1) - women (9th/10th place classification)
Portugal scorers: Mariana Sarmento 2, Ines Nunes 2, Rute Estorninho, Elisabete Matos.

Serbia scorers: Boglarka Rudic 2, Jelena Vukovic 2, Dragana Ivkovic 2, Ivan Corovic, Jovana Dujovic, Lara Luka.

Germany (L35) vs. France (L36) 9-13 (4-2, 2-6, 3-3, 0-2) - women (7th/8th place classification)
Germany scorers: Belen Vosseberg 3, Carmen Gelse 3, Claudia Blomenkamp 2, Bianca Seyfert.

France scorers: Lea Bachelier 3, Louise Guillet 3, Marion Tardy 2, Clemence Clerc 2, Estelle Millot, Geraldine Mahieu, Michaela Jaskova.

Russia (W35) vs. Greece (W36) 12-13 (3-2, 4-3, 2-2, 0-2; penalties: 3-4) - women (5th/6th place classification)
Russia scorers:

Greece scorers:

Spain (L37) vs. Italy (L38) 9-10 (3-2, 2-2, 2-4, 2-2) - women (3rd/4th place classification)
Spain scorers: Roser Tarrago 3, Beatriz Ortiz 2, Pilar Peña 2, Jennifer Pareja, Maica Garcia.

Italy scorers: Roberta Bianconi 3, Chiara Tabani, Elisa Queirolo, Tania di Mario, Giulia Emmolo, Francesca Pomeri, Aleksandra Cotti, Teresa Frassinetti.

Netherlands (W37) vs. Hungary (W38) 7-9 (3-3, 2-1, 2-3, 0-2) - women (1st/2nd place classification)
Netherlands scorers: Dagmar Genee 3, Yasemin Smit 2, Sabrina van der Sloot, Maud Megens.

Hungary scorers: Hanna Kisteleki 2, Ildiko Toth 2, Barbara Bujka 2, Dora Antal, Orsolya Takacs, Anna Illes.

Saturday, January 23:

09.00: Germany vs. Netherlands - men (11th/12th place classification)
10.30: Romania vs. France - men (9th/10th place classification)
12.00: Russia vs. Croatia - men (7th/8th place classification)
13.30: Spain vs. Italy - men (5th/6th place classification)
16.15: Greece vs. Hungary - men (3th/4th place classification)
17.45: Serbia vs. Montenegro - men (1st/2nd place classification)

N.b.: time mentioned is local time.

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