Lithuania surprise with victory but Iceland still through
Just two days ago, they were defeated 28:34 in Israel, but on Thursday Lithuania rose like a phoenix. Thanks to a close, but well-deserved 29:27 win against Iceland, the Baltic side might be on the way towards their second ever EHF EURO participation after 1998.
Despite losing to Lithuania for the first time since 1997 (29:32 in the EHF EURO qualification in Kaunas), Iceland did not miss an early qualification for the 2022 event, as courtesy of Israel's defeat against Portugal and their better head-to-head against Lithuania they cannot finish lower than second in the group.
Lithuania vs Iceland 29:27 (13:9)
- Iceland did not lead once in the full 60 minutes and were level only once at 1:1; Lithuania’s 11:4 advance after only 22 minutes was a comfortable cushion for the rest of the match
- Iceland improved after the break, but could not take the upper hand although they narrowed the gap to a single goal three times in the second half
- Aidenas Malasinskas scored three of his 12 goals in the last five minutes to decide the match, and his performance, together with a further six goals from Jonas Truchanovicius. was the key to Lithuania’s success
- Aron Palmarsson was the top Icelandic scorer with nine goals
- Lithuania will fight for a EHF EURO ticket in their final match against Portugal hoping to finish among the four best third ranked teams
Champions League experience is key
Aidenas Malasinskas plays an extremely strong role in the EHF Champions League for Motor Zaporozhye, and with 68 goals this season he is one of the top scorers for the Ukrainian side. With 12 goals from 16 attempts against Iceland, the left back showed his skills in the Lithuanian national team.
Like Malasinskas, Jonas Truchanovicius also proved that playing in the Champions League is crucial – in 2018, he was the first Lithuanian to lift the trophy, winning with Montpellier.