In the penultimate round of the first qualification phase for the EHF EURO 2016 in Poland the first group winner has been confirmed – even without throwing a ball themselves on Wednesday.
As Cyprus were beaten on home court by Luxemburg, Finland cannot be overtaken anymore by any team in group 1.
In the two remaining groups Italy and Belgium kept the flames of hope burning by recording their second respective victory. But both need to take clear away victories in their final matches against Greece and Estonia if they want to come out on top of their groups.
The three group winners from this phase will progress to a knock-out phase where they will meet the three lowest ranked fourth placed teams from EHF EURO 2014 Qualification Phase 2 in two play-off matches, home and away, on 2/3 April 2014 and 5/6 April 2014.
The winners of these play-off matches will join the already qualified remaining participants for the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification Phase 2.
Group 1: Cyprus vs. Luxembourg 22:36 (15:17)
Happy end for Luxembourg, happy end for Finland: Thanks to the surprisingly clear away victory, Luxemburg took their first win in this round and made the Finnish team cheer, as they are already through to the play-offs before even facing Cyprus on Saturday.
The result is even more spectacular, as Luxembourg needed to replace several key players, like Martin Muller, who will play in the second German division next season.
After an equal first half, Luxemburg forged ahead thanks to their team spirit and bigger international experience.
The final result was unexpectedly clear as the guests took revenge for the close home defeat in the first leg, which had ended their chances to finish on top of group very early.
Top scorer of the match was Julios Argyrou for Cyprus with nine goals, best striker for the Luxembourg team, in which eleven players hit the net, was Alain Poeckes with six goals.
Group 2: Italy vs. Great Britain 37:26 (18:13)
Great Britain played much stronger compared to the first leg (47:23 in favour of Italy), but still never threatened the hosts.
Italy saved vital power for the crucial encounter against Greece on Saturday, which they need to win by a difference of seven goals after the 25:31 home defeat in the first leg.
Italy have four points in their account, the unbeaten Greek team has six.
Great Britain had the best scorer of the match in Steven Larsson, but even his eight goals did not turn the match around in his team's favour. Best Italian scorer was Demis Radovcic with six goals.
Group 3: Belgium vs. Ireland 36:12 (18:4)
Even without their top player Thomas Cauwenberghs, Belgium had an 'easy going' evening against Ireland, which finished their qualification campaign without a point in their account.
Thanks to a highly concentrated starting period, the hosts were away by already 14 goals at the break, but then allowed the Irish double this amount of goals (eight) after the break.
Best scorers were Gerd-Jan Mathijs (Belgium) with eight goals, Meyer scored four times for Ireland.
Despite the clear victory, Belgium (4 points in their account) need a miracle against Estonia on Sunday (16 June), as they have to chase a seven goal deficit from the first leg (24:31) to qualify for the play-offs.