Finland-Georgia draw sets up decisive final day
An exciting draw between World Championship 2023 qualification group 2 hosts Finland and Georgia opened day two of action in Vantaa, before Estonia earned their first victory of the tournament, 34:22, against Great Britain.
The results of Saturday’s matches mean three teams are left in the running for the group’s two tickets to the next phase of qualification, as Great Britain can no longer progress, even if they gain points on Sunday.
Finland and Georgia end day two still on top of the group, with three points apiece, while Estonia are in third with two points.
The two berths in the next qualification stage will be decided on Sunday, with Finland opening the day against Great Britain before Estonia play Georgia. Group 1 also returns to action on Sunday. All matches will be streamed live on EHFTV.
- both teams took their turn with the advantage before a close finish, with Finland’s Max Granlund having the final say when he netted the equaliser with 68 seconds on the clock
- powered by their top scorers Irakil Kbilashvili and Teimuraz Orjonikidze, who combined for 15 goals in the match, Georgia opened a three-goal lead in the first 30 minutes
- Finland quickly levelled the game then took the upper hand in the second period, leading 24:20 then 25:21, but let their four-goal lead slip for a tight race to the buzzer
- Georgia are missing one of their leading stars, 20-year-old Giorgi Tskhovrebadze — top scorer of the Men’s IHF/EHF Trophy 2021 won by Georgia — due to injury
- while Estonia kept their hopes of reaching the next stage alive with the win, Great Britain bowed out of the race with the defeat, as even a victory on Sunday against tournament hosts Finland will not take them into the top two spots in the group
- Estonia goalkeeper Rasmus Ots had a strong outing, with 10 saves at a rate of 48 per cent, while almost every field player contributed with a goal to the victory
- by the 20-minute mark, the situation already looked ominous for Great Britain with Estonia holding the lead at 14:7
- Great Britain managed to come inside the 10-goal distance towards the final 10 minutes, at 28:20, but could not decrease the score line further
- the top scorers of the match were Sebastien Edgar (Great Britain) and Ott Varik (Estonia), with eight goals each