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Date: 4/8/2016
 

Slovenia and Spain began Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament II with a close match showcasing strong goalkeeping and fast counter attacks, which ended with a win for Slovenia.  

The second game finished with a 15-goal victory for home side Sweden, against Iran, securing two points for the hosts who sit on top of the table with Slovenia after the first day of matches. 

Malmö Arena, Malmö
Spain vs Slovenia 21:24 (16:12)

It took almost two minutes for the ball to hit the back of the net for the first time with the goal coming courtesy of Raul Entrerrios, whose shot only just made it past Slovenia goalkeeper Gorazd Skof’s hands. The near miss was a reflection of the low-scoring opening minutes, during which Entrerrios’ goal was the only one until Valero Rivera took the score to 2:0 on a penalty in the fourth. 

After five minutes Spain remained two in front at 3:1, but Slovenia slowly warmed up to equalise at 3:3 before right wing Gasper Marguc capitalised on a six-on-five advantage to claim the lead in the ninth (4:3). 

When Slovenia had pulled ahead to a 5:3 advantage in the 10th Spain coach Manuel Cadenas called his first time-out, and his team were the next on the board with another penalty goal from Rivera. From that point Spain chased as Slovenia’s one-goal advantage persisted, until midway through the half when Alex Dujshebaev scored a fast-break goal to level the score at 7:7. 

Spain reclaimed the lead with an outside goal from Joan Canellas putting the score at 10:9 in their favour, and a particularly strong period from goalkeeper Gonzalo Perez de Vargas helped the 2013 world champions inch further in front to 13:10 with five minutes left in the half. 

At the break Spain held a four-goal lead, and they retained a clear advantage well into the second half looking comfortable as they played at a relaxed speed while Slovenia turned up the pace in attack and tried to disrupt their opponents with 5-1 defence. But Spain found wing and penalty opportunities as a result and held on to the lead at 19:15 until Gedeon Guardiola received a two-minute suspension in the 40th minute. 

Slovenia made the most of the numerical advantage and closed the gap to 19:17, but Perez de Vargas saved Spain from danger when he stopped a penalty shot in the 45th to keep the difference at two goals. The relief was temporary however, and with 15 minutes left on the clock Spain held only a narrow edge at 19:18. 

It was just past the 50-minute mark when the score was equal at 20:20 that Dean Bombac broke through to push Slovenia in front once more, and as the clock ticked down Spain found themselves in a dangerous position. 

As the match entered its last five minutes Bombac increased Slovenia’s lead to 23:20, before Rivera answered immediately to close the gap to 21:23. A tense few minutes followed but when Jure Dolenec broke the scoring drought to put Slovenia three in front at 24:21 with less than two minutes remaining, then Skof saved Victor Tomas’ shot inside the last minute, the victory was decided. 

Iran vs Sweden 19:34 (9:16)

Sweden entered this match as the strong favourites and were quick to confirm that role, though it was not without a fight from Iran, who kept pace reasonably well through the opening minutes. At the five-minute mark the score was kept level at 2:2 when Iran goalkeeper Mohsen Babasafari Renani saved a Fredrik Petersen penalty shot – but it was not long until Sweden began to dominate the game, despite some superb saves from Renani on difficult fast-break shots. 

After 12 minutes Sweden had opened up a five-goal advantage at 8:3, and they maintained that lead at 10:5 midway through the half. 

With just over six minutes left in the first period Sweden’s five-goal lead held steady at 12:7, but coaches Ola Lindgren and Staffan Olsson did not begin to rotate extensively through their bench until the last five minutes of the half when Iran had decreased the score line to 8:12. Still Sweden were able to move further ahead as half-time drew near, and when the match resumed they would only increase their advantage. 

After 40 minutes of play Sweden held more than a 10-goal lead at 24:12, and with 15 minutes left they had a decisive 27:14 advantage that would prove impossible for Iran to overcome. Sweden continued the onslaught to finish with a 15-goal victory that puts them at the top of the table alongside Slovenia after the first day of matches. 

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