10 Jun. 2019
Great Britain opened the third day of competition at the 3rd IHF Emerging Nations Championship in Georgia by taking their second win, this time beating Azerbaijan after leading throughout the match and surviving a late comeback.
Great Britain are now on four points on the Group A table, while Azerbaijan stay on two.
Azerbaijan vs Great Britain 35:36 (15:20)
After collecting their first two points versus India in round two, Great Britain were eager to add to their tally with a victory in the opening match on Monday 10 June. Their determination translated into an early lead, 4.0, after six minutes.
Great Britain maintained a clear advantage throughout the opening 30 minutes, while Azerbaijan struggled to find promising scoring opportunities against the defence supported by goalkeeper Owen Insou. Insou has been an important player for Great Britain, so an injury for him early in the second half, at 17:22, could have signalled a turning point in the game – but his team stayed in front and Insou soon returned to the court as his injury proved less troublesome than first appeared.
In the first half, Great Britain’s cushion reached a decisive seven-goal margin – 18:11 in the 26th minute, 19:12 in the 27th – before Azerbaijan recorded a 3:1 lead through that brought them closer in time for the break. Azerbaijan returned stronger when the match resumed, and outscored their opponents 20:16 in the second 30 minutes, but it was not enough to overturn the damage done in the first half.
When Azerbaijan closed the gap to 23:26 in the 43rd minute, Great Britain coach Ricardo Vasconcelos called a time-out. It did not slow their opponents’ run, however. Azerbaijan soon decreased the distance to one and equalised at 28:28 in the 50th minute, starting a tight race to the whistle.
Again, Great Britain moved ahead by three, 33:30, in the 55th minute, and again, Azerbaijan fought back. In the end, it was a penalty goal from Christopher White that secured the victory for Great Britain.
Players of the match:
Great Britain: Christopher White
Azerbaijan: Sabir Nazaraliyev