Iceland secured a spot in the 2018 European Men’s Handball Championship, to be held in Croatia in January, after a big win over Ukraine, 34-26, at Laugardalshöll indoor sports arena in Reykjavík last night, reports Vísir.
This is the tenth time in a row that Iceland will be heading to the Championship as the team has qualified for all the European tournaments since 2000. Iceland ended in third place in group four in the qualification tournament, but continues on to the final tournament as the best third-ranked team among all four groups.
After a weak offense led to a disappointing loss against the Czech Republic last Wednesday, it was a totally different story last night.
The offense went smoothly and the Icelandic team scored many goals after fast offensives. National team captain Guðjón Valur Sigurðsson was a leader in this category and reminded us last night of just how unique he is. Guðjón Valur ended the night as the top scorer for the Icelandic team with eight goals.
Aron Rafn Eðvarðsson started out in goal instead of Björgvin Páll Gústavsson and had a brilliant game saving 15 goals.
Iceland quickly gained the upper hand in the game, but struggled to definitively break away from the Ukrainians. However, a good run at the end of the first half meant that the score at half-time was 18-13, in Iceland’s favor.
During the second half, there was never any question about which side would end the victor. The Icelandic team got off to a good start and did not let up. They finished the game eight goals up for a final scorecard of 34-26.
Ten Icelanders stamped their mark on the game last night. As mentioned above, Guðjón Valur was the highest scorer with eight goals. Ólafur Guðmundsson scored five goals and so did Aron Pálmarsson. Aron was also key in assists, as is his wont.
Rúnar Kárason, Arnar Freyr Arnarsson and Ásgeir Örn Hallgrímsson all scored four goals each, and the latter two players were strong in defense.