Georgia win IHF/EHF Trophy, Bulgaria take important third place
Bulgaria have grabbed the last ticket to the Men's EHF EURO 2024 relegation round, beating Moldova 26:25 in a nail-biting bronze medal match at the IHF/EHF Trophy 2021 in Tbilisi on Saturday.
Bulgaria as the third-ranked team join Georgia and Cyprus, who qualified for the relegation round of the European Championship 2024 a day earlier when they reached the final of the IHF/EHF Trophy.
The tournament hosts ended up lifting the cup, outscoring Cyprus 32:18 in the final, mainly thanks to a series of nine unanswered goals in the first half and to Georgi Tskhovrebadze's 12-goal outing.
Line-up for EHF EURO 2024 relegation round completed
Georgia, Cyprus and Bulgaria complete the eight-team line-up for the EHF EURO 2024 relegation round on 19/20 and 22/23 January 2022.
The other participants are Luxembourg, who were directly seeded, as well as Belgium, Turkey, Finland and Latvia, who were the four worst fourth-ranked teams in the EHF EURO 2022 qualifiers.
The draw date for the four play-off pairings of the relegation round will be announced by the EHF in due time.
Cyprus vs Georgia 18:32 (6:14)
- a cautious start from both teams kept the sides locked at 2:2 in the opening minutes
- Georgia created a decisive advantage with an astonishing 9:0 run to go 11:2 up; the series finally ended in the 20th minute when Christos Argyrou scored for Cyprus from the penalty line
- Georgia were already eight ahead at the break and their advantage soon reached double-digit figures in the second half
- Georgi Tskhovrebadze was the outstanding scorer with 12 goals as no other player on the court netted more than five times
- the title marks Georgia's third international success, after winning the Challenge Trophy 2007 and the Emerging Nations Championship 2019
BRONZE MEDAL MATCH:
Moldova vs Bulgaria 25:26 (11:13)
- Bulgaria opened with two quick goals while Moldova only scored their first in the fifth minute
- Moldova went into the lead for the first time after nine minutes (4:3) but Bulgaria were ahead again by two at the break thanks to two late goals from Sveltin Dimitrov and Georgi Atanasov
- a strong start to the second half earned Bulgaria an 18:12 lead in the 40th minute, but Moldova fought back and the teams were all square again at 24:24 with two minutes left
- Dimitrov, with his ninth of the match, gave Bulgaria a 26:25 lead before goalkeeper Ivaylo Kostov saved a last-second free throw from Moldova's Roman Zacaciurin
- Zacaciurin also netted nine times and became the event's joined top scorer with 36 goals, alongside Georgia's Georgi Tskhovrebadze
Earlier Saturday, the 5/6 placement match between Azerbaijan and Andorra was called off after several players from Andorra had tested positive for Covid-19.
Georgia well represented in All-star Team
The champions were also the undisputed leaders of the IHF/EHF Trophy 2021 All-star Team, with four of the seven playing positions occupied by Georgia, followed by two for Cyprus and one for Bulgaria.
Georgia centre back Irakli Kbilashvili was awarded the title best player of the tournament.
- goalkeeper: Zurab Tsintsadze (Georgia)
- left wing: Christos Argyrou (Cyprus)
- left back: Loucas Paraskeva (Cyprus)
- centre back: Irakli Kbilashvili (Georgia)
- line player: Erekle Arsenashvili (Georgia)
- right back: Giorgi Tskhovrebadze (Georgia)
- right wing: Svetelin Dimitrov (Bulgaria)
- best player of the tournament: Irakli Kbilashvili (Georgia)
- top scorers: Giorgi Tskhovrebadze (Georgia), Roman Zacaciurin (Moldova) - 36 goals