Debutants Iceland reach VRILITTOS 2018 final
Iceland needed the goal differential to qualify to the semi-finals, but further advanced to the tournament’s final game, after beating Israel 25:24 in a dramatic way.
The debutants from the Northwest part of Europe have been between rock and a hard place on several occasions but they took their decisions in the end to book their place in the final.
After ten minutes of play, with both teams looked nervous in the beginning, Iceland found the way to overcome Israel’s man-to-man defence and secure a three-goal lead (8:5) at minute 9. By minute 24, Iceland were ahead by five (14:9) paving the way for a – what it seemed like – easy going game.
Israel though didn’t give up, and they managed to went to the locker room for the halftime break, trailing with three goals (15:12).
Israel found their pace in the beginning of the second half and thanks to 3-0 run firstly they equalized (15:15) and later on went in front (18:17) 17 minutes from time with Levi leading the way.
Having the momentum, the Israelis used their man-to-man to defence once more to establish their domination, but Iceland, inspired by Thorstensen’s -who had replaced Karlsson- numerous saves, regained the upper hand, forcing Israel to chase the score in order to erase a solid one-goal deficit.
With both teams stuck at 23 goals and Iceland missing with their shot, Israel finally had their moment to go up again and indeed they succeeded with a 7m shot by Levi.
It seemed like the first semi-final would go down to the wire, a prediction which was soon justified when Iceland scored twice with Asthorsson (57min and 35secs and 58.52) to regain the lead (25:24).
Israel tried to make it all square with a quick and fierce shot by Shulman, but Thorstensen parried it with 54 seconds still on the clock. Iceland perfectly executed their last attack with Maksim Akbachev’s time out 24 seconds leaving Israel literally with no time for a last shot.
ISRAEL – ICELAND 24:25
Scoreline: 3:3, 4:6, 6:9, 8:12, 9:14, 12:15 (halftime), 15:16, 16:17, 19:19, 21:22, 23:23, 24:25
ISRAEL (Nikola Maksimovic): Cohen, Zo Letova 2, Levi 14, Shalma 2, Horvitz, Shulman 2, Hadar, Golan, Maman, Luzon 2, Salvador, Sharon 2, Dahan, R. Livgot, Moradov, Buhnik, I. Livgot, Gingold.
ICELAND (Maksim Akbachev): Sveinsson 2, Gustafsson 1, Thorisson 1, Haddsson 3, Aronsson, T. G. Johnsson, Palsson, Asthorssοn 5, Oskarsson 6, Vidarsson 3, K. M. Jonsson 1, Gudjonsson, Baroason 2, Eiriksson, Thorstensen, Karlsson.
Referees: Fotakidis-Kinatjidis (Greece). 2 mins suspensions: 3-2. 7m: 4/4-4/5.
Gudmundur Asthorsson (Player Iceland): “We may have secured a medal, courtesy of our victory against Israel, but we also want to claim the trophy.
“The semi-final was a very tight game. Their defence caused us many troubles, but we managed to beat them and this is what really counts in the end.
“It’s our first tournament with this line-up and I believe we’ve been great so far.”
Nikola Maksimovic (Coach Israel): “We successfully tried many different defensive tactics in this game, some not tested before.
“Our weakest point today, that caused us a place in the final, was the deadlock in attack.”