The Estonian national men's handball team defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina 24:21 on Wednesday to gain their first points in the second phase of the qualification tournament for the 2022 European Men's Handball Championship.
The match, played in Põlva, Estonia, started with back and forth action with either team unable to pull away until Bosnia and Herzeogovina were able open a three-goal lead at 8:11, leading to them taking the first half with a score of 11:14.
The second half started with the away team keeping a stable three-goal lead until the Estonians rallied and tied the game at 17. The game was last tied at 21, but Estonia kept their best effort for the clutch situation and scored three unanswered goals to take a 24:21 victory, giving them their first points in the second phase of the qualifier tournament.
Kaspar Lees and Karl Toom both scored eight goals for Estonia on the game. but pointed to the team's strong defensive effort instead: "Good defense gave me my wings for fast breaks. One of parts of our plan was to do well in defense - if the goalkeeper works bac, we should get fast breaks. We got things running and it worked. That part of our game worked well from the beginning."
The comments on defense were echoed by head coach Thomas Sivertsson: "We knew the game was going to be a physical one but we were well prepared for it. The defense worked well all throughout the game, offense was good to start off, I hoped playing six on seven at practice would have helped. That it did and I am very proud of the team and this win."
Estonia now has a win to go with their two losses in group two of the qualifiers. While group leader Germany is firmly in first place with six points, followed by Austria with two points, the same as Estonia. Austria is ahead in the group though on goal difference, -6 vs -12 for Estonia.
Estonia's next match will be on Sunday when they will travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina for a repeat match.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste