Sweden and Belarus split points in nail-biting match

20 Jan. 2021

Sweden and Belarus split points in nail-biting match

In an entertaining and nerve-wrecking all-European clash, Belarus were in front by eight goals in the first half against Sweden, but the Scandinavian side pulled off a strong comeback. They were very close to a win, but Andrei Yurynok’s last-gasp goal rescued Belarus a point and ended their opponents’ three-match winning run. 

Now Sweden are top of main round Group IV with five points, one ahead of Slovenia and Egypt, while fifth-placed Belarus are on two points. 

Sweden vs Belarus 26:26 (11:15)

It was a nightmare start of the match for Sweden, who scored just one goal in the first ten minutes and were trailing 1:5.

Belarus right wing Mikita Vailupau was tearing the Swedish defence apart, scoring five goals from five attempts by the 17th minute.

Although Andreas Palicka made a few saves, his teammates were very nonchalant in attack, losing many balls or shooting wide. With their free-flowing attack, Belarus capitalised on those mistakes and extended their lead to 10:5 and then further to 13:5.

Only then Sweden, who replaced Palicka by Mikael Aggefors, started to wake up from their lethargy. Three unanswered goals put them in a slightly better position, and inspired by Alfred Jonsson, they reduced the deficit to four goals by the break.

Sweden continued to catch up early in the second half and closed the gap to just one goal, 14:15. The teams exchanged goals for a while, but the Scandinavians continued to push forward, and finally their line player Fredrik Pettersson drew level at 19:19 in minute 43.

“I am happy with one point after 5:13. In the first 15 to 20 minutes, we had no energy and speed in our game, but then improved,” said Sweden’s coach Glenn Solberg. 

Hampus Wanne did a good job, and his seventh goal in the match put the Nordic team in front for the first time (22:21). It was still anyone’s game, and although Sweden gained momentum, Aleh Astrashapkin’s late string of goals kept them in the fight.

With two minutes to go, the teams were level at 25:25, but after Aliaksei Ushal got a two-minute suspension, Pettersson put his team in front. In their last attack, Sweden had a chance to seal a victory, but Jonsson’s shot went wide, and Belarus managed to salvage a point with Andrei Yurynok’s shot a few seconds from the buzzer. 

“You can’t beat Sweden only because you have an advantage in the first half. We played very well, but then the opponents found the key to our defence. Both sides showed character, but I want to compliment my team who fought until the end. I am happy with one point snatched in the last seconds,” Belarus coach Iouri Shevtsov said. 

hummel Player of the Match: Hampus Wanne, Sweden