Iceland and North Macedonia win dramatic semi-finals in Lithuania
Iceland and North Macedonia earned dramatic victories in the semi-finals of the Women's EHF 17 Championship in Lithuania against group winners Spain and Lithuania.
Iceland needed a goal from Inga Dis Johannsdottir with approximately 20 seconds left to beat Spain by one goal, while North Macedonia required a comeback in the second half to overcome Poland.
- in a dramatic match, Iceland ended Spain's 100 per cent record at the W17 EHF Championship in Lithuania
- Tinna Sigurros Traustadottir and Elisa Eliasdotter both scored seven goals for Iceland. Traustadottir collected the award as Iceland's best player
- Blanca Benitez (three goals) was named as Spain's best player. With seven goals, Ester Somaza was Spain's top scorer
If Spain felt the pressure of favouritism after topping group A in the preliminary round, Iceland certainly took full advantage of any Spanish nerves that were present in the first half.
As Spain made five attacking errors in the opening 10 minutes, Iceland’s high shot efficiency saw them take a four-goal lead, 8:4, as three players scored two goals each: Tinna Sigurros Traustadottir, Elisa Eliasdotter and Katrin Anna Asmundsdottir.
Iceland right back Tinna Sigurros Traustadottir and line player Elisa Eliasdotter remained dangerous in attack, but Spain back Lyndie Tchapchet's four goals were a big factor in her side equalising four-and-a-half minutes before half-time at 15:15.
Spain earned their first lead of the match, 22:21, when Ester Somaza converted her third penalty of the second half, but Iceland's response prevented Spain from increasing their advantage.
With both teams trading goal for goal throughout the second half, a tense finish awaited. Iceland goalkeeper Elisa Helga Sigurdardottir made three valuable saves in the final 10 minutes, before Inga Dis Johannsdottir's match-winning goal sparked celebrations on the Iceland bench.
- like Spain, group B winners Poland suffered their first defeat of the championship in the most important match to date
- right back/wing Iva Mladenovska scored 12 goals for North Macedonia and was named as their best player
- Emilia Wieckowska netted five times for Poland, who let a three-goal lead slip in the second half
The early stages of the second semi-final shaped as a scoring battle between two players: Poland's Emilia Wieckowska and North Macedonia's Iva Mladenovska. After 15 minutes, both players had scored three goals from five shots – but Poland had a two-goal advantage (6:4) on the scoreboard.
Even though Poland's lead stood at three goals in the 23rd minute, 14-year-old Mladenovska had moved ahead of Wieckowska in the individual scoring stakes. As part of a strong run for North Macedonia, Mladenovska's seventh goal of the half gave them a 12:11 lead shortly before the break, but Wieckowska still had time to equalise for Poland.
In the 32nd minute, North Macedonia suffered a setback when Aleksandra Kolovska received a red card. Despite falling behind 15:12 after Kolovska's red card, North Macedonia were galvanised by events.
With Mladenovska receiving support in attack from Emilijana Rizoska, North Macedonia turned the match around and opened a five-goal lead (25:20) with two minutes remaining. For Poland, who only scored five times in the last 17 minutes, a game against Spain in Sunday's bronze medal match awaits.
Cross Matches 5-8
Finland vs Belarus 20:30 (12:15)
Turkey vs Lithuania 20:21 (9:11)
Placement match 9-10
Kosovo vs Latvia 23:24 (8:13)