The Estonian men's national handball team lost 35:20 to Germany in their final 2022 European championships qualification group stage match and did not advance to the final tournament, finishing last in their group.
Although the Estonian side did not hold a single lead in Sunday's away match, the teams were neck and neck to start the match. The 2016 Olympic bronze took off from there, however, and opened a 17:10 lead going into halftime.
The German team showed its class in the second half and opened a 10-point lead by the 40th minute of the match. At one point, Germany extended their lead to 16, but Estonia was able to get one back for a 35:20 loss. Estonia also lost to Austria on Thursday.
Kaspar Lees and Karl Toom scored five goals for Estonia and Dener Jaanimaa threw in four goals for the losing side.
Kaspar Lees told ERR post-match: "We started the first half rather normal for us. We came into the match 100 percent prepared and were able to maintain that for the first half of the first period. Then they forced the pace, we were playing against one of the best teams in the world. The speed of the offense, strength of defense: That is where it collapsed and the gap increased."
Lees said the players were rattled by the deficit going into the second half. "Quite a few of our guys were visibly empty in the second half. On the positive side, we can say that we left it all out there. The depth of the opponent's bench brought new power on at all times and they did not hold back," the left wing added.
National team captain Martin Johannson wrapped up the qualification group stage: "The conclusion is positive. The most painful was the previous match against Austria. We were able to enter [Sunday's] match more energetically. We wanted to put our best foot forward, regardless of the mistakes. In conclusion: We got one win, would have wanted one more, but the direction is good."
Germany won all six of their Group 2 matches for a clear advancement to the final tournament in January 2022. Austria came in second in the group, splitting their six matches, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina with two wins and four losses. Estonia won once in the group, defeating Bosnia and Herzegovina 24:21 in January.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste