Sweden and Faroe Islands reach EOC final
Sweden and the Faroe Islands are qualified for the final in the European Open Championship. This after the teams won their last matches in the Main Round and so far have gone unbeaten through the tournament.
In one decisive match, the one between Sweden and Iceland, it was Iceland that quickly got hold of a 3-0 lead and the tall Icelandic defence challenged the Swedish offensive to try to find new solutions. Elliot Stenmalm, who stood out with his performance, realized that it was difficult to shoot above the central defence, so instead he aimed low and it led to the team’s first goal in the match.
The counter attacks have always been a way forward for the team in blue and yellow, and it was after such a formula that they could take control of the game. Because after the initial three goals, Oscar Sävinger shut his goal and the defence raised the level. As so many times before in the EOC, it was Julian Sjögren who displayed his speed on the left and could equalize.
“In the beginning we didn’t have the right flow and had some shots in the post but I think we recovered”, Stenmalm said.
Then Sweden took over more and more. The lead was grasped and held all the way into the signal for 25 minutes of play with the score being 11–9.
Stenmalm continued to impress in the second half. If it was not a well-placed shot from a distance, he would steal the ball in a defensive position and go forward. Iceland, however, were just close behind Sweden for a long time and it was a dramatic game in some sense.
When Iceland, during a short period of time, first got a straight red card and then a two-minute suspension, there was the chance for Sweden to get away. But it would still be a dramatic end to the game. With two and a half minutes left to play, only one goal separated the two sides and it was all about keeping the focus. Albert Månsson of Sweden showed this when he made it 21-19 from the penalty line and Marcus Lennernäs gave it everything when the situation appeared. This led to Sweden securing the spot in the final with 22–19 on the scoreboard.
“On the whole it was a great defensive effort. It is also noticeable that we learned from the Czech Republic match, we are more focused in the end and have control of the events even if they came close. As a whole, it felt fair and stable from our side”, Sweden coach Tomas Axnér said.
From the other side of the Main Round, the Faroe Islands have gone to the finals after winning all the matches so far. What took them to the finals was a victory with 22-20 against Hungary. The final is played in Scandinavium on Friday night with match start at 20:30.
Text: Erik Malmqvist
Photo: Karin Celander