Argentina beat Belarus for 29-28 on the opening match of the Orthodox Christmas Tournament in Moscow, Russia. The conducted by Eduardo Gallardo obtained their second victory against the Europeans in less than three months as they had already beat them in the Provident Cup in Hungary last November (30-23). Russia defeated the Netherlands for 35-28.
The South American team traveled to the Russian capital without some of their key players, such as Diego and Sebastián Simonet, Nantes’ goalkeeper Matías Schulz and team captain Gonzalo Carou, but that did not make it less dangerous. The first half finished 15-13 for Argentina, which had a very good performance despite the constant rotation of the line-up. A characteristic tough defence and the dynamic on the attack were key for the victory for Gallardo’s squad.
Siarhei Rutenka’s 9 goals were not enough to change the result on the second half and the Argentinians were able to keep up the pace of the match to reach the last minutes with a two goal lead. A last minute save by Fernando García and a goal by 23-year-old centre-back Julian Souto Cueto (top scorer for Argentina with 5 goals) sentenced the match. The negative aspect was the injury of Juan Pablo Fernández, who sprained his right knee, the extent of the injury will be further determined after examinations in Buenos Aires, but he will miss the rest of the tournament.
While Yuri Shevtsov’s team is wrapping up the preparation for the upcoming EHF Euro in Poland, where they will be on group B together with Croatia, Iceland and Norway; Argentina will take full advantage of these matches to prepare for the Pan American Champíonship (qualifier for France 2017) in June in Buenos Aires.
Later on, Russia took a victory for 35-28 against the Netherlands. The home team is also finalizing details ahead of the EHF Euro, where they will be part of group D along with Denmark, Hungary and Montenegro. The top scorer of the match was Valentin Kovalyov with 8 goals.
Tomorrow, Belarus will play against the Netherlands at 15hs, while Dmitri Torgovanov’s team will face Argentina at 17hs (Moscow time) in a rematch of last year’s encounter on the World Championship in Qatar, when the South Americans obtained a 30-27 victory to reach the eight finals.
Photo credit: http://www.rushandball.ru/