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Date: 4/9/2016
 

Spain started the second day of matches at Men’s Olympic Tournament II in Malmö with a decisive victory over Iran that put their first two points on the table, before Sweden secured their second win to move up to four points. 

With Sweden on four and Spain and Slovenia on two points, both of the group’s places at Rio 2016 will be decided on the final day of matches on Sunday. 

Malmö Arena, Malmö
Spain vs Iran 37:23 (18:12)

The first match of the day in Malmö began with a tightly-contested first half before Spain found their opponent’s biggest weakness and scorched ahead to win by a decisive 14 goals. 

Iran kept pace initially but after 10 minutes of play the 2013 world champions had pulled ahead to a three-goal lead at 7:4. Coach Manolo Cadenas was clearly confident that Spain would claim the victory, electing to start with Rodrigo Corrales in goal, but a two-minutes suspension for Valero Rivera in the 12th minute (8:4) enabled Iran to close the gap to 6:8 by the time Spain were back at full strength. 

Midway through the half when Iran had decreased the score line to just one goal at 7:8, Cadenas called Spain’s first time-out, but when the match resumed it was Iran’s Mojtaba Heidarpour who hit the net first to level the score at 8:8 in the 16th. 

Though Gonzalo Perez de Vargas was brought in to the Spanish goal it was not until the European team moved to a very offensive 5-1 defence that they began to create the expected lead. After Spain pushed forward they were immediately rewarded with a fast break goal from left wing Cristian Ugalde, his sixth of the match, putting the score at 13:10 in the 24th. 

Quite suddenly the stadium was treated to a showcase of Spain’s best fast breaks, as the European team caused turnovers with their offensive defence and streaked ahead to create a seven-goal gap within six minutes. Iran’s Shahoo Nosrati scored a penalty after the buzzer to keep the distance at six at half-time, but Spain’s dominance was beginning to show. 

Iran goalkeeper Mohammad Siavoshishahenayati made some exceptional saves, including one on a Victor Tomas fast break in the 45th that kept the score at 16:27, but Spain were nevertheless leading by more than 10 goals at that stage and the two points were essentially decided. 

At the final whistle the score board showed a clear victory for Spain, who take their first two points and keep their Rio 2016 dream alive until the final qualification matches on Sunday. 

Player of the Match presented by Adidas: Cristian Ugalde (ESP) Left Wing

Slovenia vs Sweden 23:24 (9:12)

The final score line of one goal reflects the close nature of the match from the first whistle to the last. Both teams used a lot of energy to find ways through their opponent’s strong defence in the first period, as it seemed neither were able to score until the other was one player down. 

Sweden were the first to capitalise on such a numerical advantage, with Jonas Kallman converting a superb Mattias Andersson save to put Sweden in front 3:1 in the seventh. His goal was immediately followed by a fast break from Niclas Ekberg, earning Sweden a temporary three-goal advantage at 4:1 in the eighth. But once Slovenia were back at full strength the scoring race slowed down again – and the same pattern would repeat until near the end of the first period. 

Sweden held on to their lead as the clock ticked on, but it was slow progress in both goals and when Andersson made a spectacular save in the 17th the score was kept at a low 7:4 to Sweden. With 10 minutes left in the half only one more goal had been scored (5:7), but a run of goals from both sides almöst doubled the score by the break.  

Slovenia began the second half at a higher tempo than the first, scoring three goals in the first few minutes to narrow the margin to 12:13. From that point it was a one-for-one game with Sweden maintaining a slight edge. 

Both sides’ defence became flatter as it was clear each team were running out of steam, but when Mikael Appelgren came in to the Swedish goal and began to make impressive saves, it added a visible burst of energy to Sweden’s game. 

Kim Andersson, who had previously retired from the national team and returned for the Olympic qualification, secured a two-goal lead at 23:21 for Sweden in the 54th. Appelgren made more impressive saves and it looked like Slovenia were out of the running, but they came back to equalise at 23:23 courtesy of a Vid Kavticnik counter attack goal in the 57th. 

Sweden looked in danger when captain Tobias Karlsson received a two-minute suspension with just over two minutes left, but the home side were able to contain Slovenia and the match entered the final minute with a level score of 23:23. Kim Andersson was the hero who took Sweden in front to 24:23 with just over 30 seconds left on the clock, and neither side were able to find the back of the net again, making Andersson’s goal the match winner. 

Sweden are now on four points after two wins, and both of Malmö’s tickets to Rio remain up for grabs with the final day of games to be played on Sunday. 

Player of the Match presented by adidas: Kim Andersson (SWE) Right Back

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