Two teams that showed much to be counted upon at the EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark, put a fine display in their 2015 Word Championship Qualifier play-off match. In a match that could have easily ended either way, boosted by the home fans Austria came back in a three-goal turnaround to win 28:26 (15:16), in the first play-off match for the World Championship 2015.
In a very equally contested match, it was Norway that edged the first half just narrowly 16:15, after the last 45 seconds of the first period saw no less than three goals scored, after a penalty put Norway one goal ahead. The second half saw the defensive battle slowly turn the match in favor of the home team, who had the backing of 5.000 fans in the Albert Schultz Eishalle in Vienna.
The match was entirely dominated by wings on both sides, with left wing Kristian Björnsen topping the score-chart with eight goals. His Austrian counterpart, youngster Raul Santos closely followed with seven goals to his name, to see his team secure the all-important home win, before taking the game to Norway.
Despite the inspired performance from the high-scoring wingers on both sides, Austrian defence turned up with their A-game in the second half to turn the match in their favour. After the first half saw both sides firing on all cylinders (15:16), the second period kept the defence tight on both ends to maintain a relatively low 13:10 score. For Austria it was the experienced Victor Szilagy and Vytautas Ziura scoring a combined effort of twelve goals (six goals each) to rise above Bjarte Myrhol and promising youngster Sagosen to take control of the match come the final whistle.
Following a two-goal home win, Austria will be under no illusions before the second match. Two-goal deficit might prove no big obstacle for the ambitious Norway team to take on boosted by the support at their home court, and the sole reason for Austria to push on, come the deciding match.
TEXT: Nemanja Savic