Russia celebrated their 90th EHF EURO match by finishing the preliminary round with a perfect record of wins, as they defeated Sweden 30:26 on Monday night.
The final group B standings therefore see Russia in first with six points ahead of Sweden and Spain on three, and Czech Republic on zero. Russia will take the maximum four points into the main round, while Sweden and Spain will each carry one from their mutual draw.
Russia vs Sweden 30:26 (15:13)
- Russia streaked ahead to a lead as clear as 11:5 as the first quarter came to a close, and spent the bulk of the game with the upper hand after that point
- Sweden managed just four goals in the first 15 minutes, but an 8:4 partial in favour of the Scandinavian side in the second part of the half saw them pull the score line back to two goals in time for the break
- Isabelle Gulldén played an important role in guiding Sweden’s attack after Russia’s strong start and was responsible for levelling the score twice in the opening minutes of the second half
- Russia reopened a narrow advantage and held it steady, leading 22:20 as the last 15 minutes began and 26:23 with five minutes remaining
- in a tense ending, which saw Sweden switch to seven-against-six and come within two goals, the match was won when Kseniia Makeeva scored for 29:26 in the 58th minute
Goal-scoring milestones for top stars
Sweden levelled the score twice in the opening minutes of the second half thanks to Isabelle Gulldén’s 192nd and 193rd goals at EHF EURO events. The Swedish star is now just one goal behind German Grit Jurack (194) in the all-time top scorer list, poised to snatch third position with her next two goals.
In what was her 20th EHF EURO match, Russia captain Daria Dmitrieva passed the 70-goal mark with her third goal, scored as early as the eighth minute as the centre back enjoyed another strong performance.
Russia coach Ambros Martin said: “We focused and we faced this match really brave, playing I think really good handball. I am really happy, really satisfied because the players are really hungry at this tournament.
"Now somehow it is very important that we forget how many points we have, that we got because we deserve them. We need to face and focus on the next matches in the same way we came here."
Sweden coach Tomas Axnér said: "We had a lot of difficulties with these fast players and the variations of plays that they choose to play. They scored a lot of goals on these small agreements between two players and that hurt us a lot in our defence.
"I think this was, on the offence side of our game, the best game so far of the tournament – that we played well with several players in our attack. We also tried to play with a shooting player and [Kristin] Thorleifsdottir really came into the tournament with her easy goals and that was great to see."