Spain dominate Czechia in Torrevieja opener

11 Apr. 2024

Spain dominate Czechia in Torrevieja opener

With Lara Gonzalez blowing kisses to the spectator seats as her and her Spain side left the court at half-time against Czechia, it was clear who was in charge and enjoying the opening 30 minutes of the Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament #2 in Torrevieja.

The host nation’s nine-goal lead (19:10) saw them ease to a final 10-goal victory, putting them in a strong position for one of the two Paris 2024 qualification spots on offer in the southern Spanish city this week.

Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament #2
Czechia vs Spain 21:31 (10:19)

In one of the most complete first half performances you will see at this level, home side Spain impressed at the Palacio de los Deportes de Torrevieja to see off the threat of Czechia and set their sights on trying to wrap up Olympic Games qualification by Friday night, when they take on Argentina in their second game.

With key Czechia players Markéta Jeřábková and Veronika Malá having a relatively quiet game by their high standards, the writing was on the wall for the visitors early on.

It took Malá until the 36th minute to score her first goal, while Jeřábková scored twice inside the first 12 minutes and would not hit the back of the net again.

But the first half belonged to Spain’s right back Mireya Gonzalez.

After finding her feet early on, the HC Dunarea Braila player came to life just short of the 10-minute mark and proceeded to dominate the half, backed up by a strong performance from Mercedes Castellanos in goal.

With the score close at just a single goal-Spanish lead (7:6), thanks to Jeřábková’s second, a missile from distance, Czechia were hanging on, but Mireya Gonzalez had other ideas and, ably assisted by Alicia Fernandez, proceeded to probe and hassle the Czechia defence.

A 7:6 lead moved to 11:6 as Alexandrina Cabral’s strike caused a Czechia time out from their coach Bent Dahl (17th minute). Evidence of the issues facing his side surfaced shortly after as Gonzalez capitalised on another Castellanos save to score her fifth goal, as Czechia failed to register a goal with their previous five attacking attempts.

Gonzalez was enjoying her handball, evidenced by a beautiful no-look assist to Soledad Lopez to smash home. Even Lara Gonzalez was getting in on the act – scoring a fast-break goal to make it 18:9 with just under two minutes of the half remaining.

Spain then saw their lead extend to double figures (19:9) under a minute later as Paula Arcos converted another fast-break, but a missed opportunity at the end of the opening period saw the home side unable to take a 10-goal lead into the pause.

Dahl would have been disappointed with the 12 turnovers from his team at the break, combined with no fast-breaks or seven metre shots, but even with Spain coach Ambros Martin rotating his side as expected, the closest Czechia could come was within eight.

The final part of the game saw Jeřábková, Malá and the exciting young prospect Charlotte Cholevová – who top-scored for Czechia on seven goals – all sit on the bench, with the final buzzer prompting goalkeeper Petra Kudláčková to sink to the floor in floods of tears.

Her and her Czechia side will now have to put this disappointment behind them quickly, as they will be in action again on Friday when they face Netherlands.

Spain will face Argentina and hope to wrap up qualification for Paris with their second win.

hummel Player of the Match: Mireya Gonzalez (Spain)