By Sam Harris | For IBSA
Germany reached a double podium finish at their home 2019 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball European Championships A in Rostock, Germany, on Sunday (14 October) as their men claimed gold and the women took bronze.
The men secured their first ever European A gold with a 6-2 victory over Ukraine that lit up the Stadthalle.
Felix Rogge made his team’s intentions clear early on with an effort against the post as the hosts looked for an early breakthrough. It came when Horauf fired a trademark drive down the centre.
The lead was soon doubled when Feistle saw his shot bounce off Vasyl Oliinyk and into the net.
Ukraine halved the deficit when Rodion Zhyhalin saw his drive bounce between Rogge and Feistle. But Horauf struck twice in quick succession to complete his hat-trick and give Germany a 4-1 half-time lead.
Zhyhalin saved a penalty from Feistle early in the second half to keep his side in the contest and he then scored past Feistle.
Germany’s three goal lead was restored when Houraf sent an unstoppable shot into the right-hand corner.
Feistle netted his third as his effort bounced over Anton Strelchyk and Oleksandr Toporkov and Germany held on to triumph on home soil.
Ukraine however, will be pleased with their place in the final which led to them qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Turkey regained their women’s title with a compelling 8-6 victory over Israel.
Sevda Altunoluk scored six goals with Seda Yildiz grabbing a brace. Lihi Ben David netted all Israel’s goals.
They stormed in front through Altunoluk’s fierce drive down the centre but found themselves behind when Ben David struck twice in quick succession for Israel.
The Israeli star then completed her hat-trick when her effort was fumbled over the line. It became four when she converted a penalty for a long ball.
Turkey were competing in their fourth successive final after winning gold in 2015 with silvers in 2013 and 2017.
Altunoluk fired in penalties either side of seeing Ben David slam home as Israel led 5-3 at the break.
After the interval Altunoluk further reduced the arrears and it was level when she rolled home another penalty.
Yildiz completed an astonishing turnaround and the lead was extended through a fourth Altunoluk penalty.
Israel pulled a goal back when Ben David’s shot crept in and although Turkey’s star attacker surprisingly missed a penalty, Yildiz’s second ensured the gold medal was heading back to Turkey.
Altunoluk finished the Championships as the leading scorer with 38 strikes and Ben David ended as joint second with 32 goals.
With Turkey already qualified for Tokyo 2020 thanks to their silver medal from the 2018 IBSA Goalball World Championships, Israel took the women’s ticket on offer.
The German women claimed bronze as they beat Great Britain 8-2.
Charlotte Hartz grabbed seven goals and Pia Knaute netted with Georgie Bullen and Kali Holder scoring for Great Britain.
Germany had not finished on the podium since their victory in 2005 while Great Britain have not won a medal at this level since winning gold a decade ago.
Hartz struck two early blows for the hosts, seeing her bouncing shots fail to be kept out by Antonia Bunyan.
The German then netted her hat-trick sending a powerful effort down the centre splitting Bunyan and Bullen.
They lead by four at the break when Hartz fired home a penalty and Knaute saved a penalty from Bunyan.
Great Britain reduced the deficit at the start of the second half as Bullen’s drive hit Stefanie Behrens and bounced in.
The fightback did not materialise however. Germany added two more through Hartz and Knaute’s stunning diagonal before Holder swept home a late consolation penalty for Great Britain.
Bunyan saved a penalty but Hartz slammed in another couple to seal a comprehensive victory.
Following his team’s victory, coach Thomas Porekin said: ‘I want to say thank you to everyone, we played a great Championships and thank you for your support for every team here at Rostock.’
Defending champions Lithuania won bronze in the men’s following their 7-6 victory over 2015 champions Turkey.
Mantas Panovas grabbed five for Lithuania with Neijus Montvydas and Justas Pazarazskas also notching. Ebubekir Siddick Kara scored four for Turkey with Tuncay Karakaya and Abdullah Aydogdu netting as well.
Lithuania fell behind when Karakaya slotted home a penalty following a long ball infringement but he saw another penalty blocked.
Pandas took advantage by slamming his side ahead with a quickfire brace as they led at the interval.
Turkey levelled soon after the restart when Kara’s spinning effort went in via the left-hand upright but were soon trailing again through Montvydas’ strike.
Kara though completed a superb hat-trick with a couple of searing drives to hand Turkey a 4-3 lead and he soon added to his tally.
Panovas then saw his penalty hit the post for Lithuania but made amends when his shot crept in.
Turkey missed a glorious chance to restore the three goal lead as they missed a second penalty. They paid the price when a Pazarauskas effort and two more goals from Panovas gave Lithuania a 7-5 lead.
Aydogdu gave Turkey hope but they could not complete a late comeback as Lithuania held on to continue their medal winning run at the championships. The Paralympic champions have left with a medal from the last four editions.
Lithuania star Panovas after the match said: “It was a great game to watch for spectators and we are very happy. We wanted to defend our gold medals but this is sport so sometimes different things happen.”
Ten men’s and 10 women’s teams from 15 countries competed for titles in Rostock, with the added bonus of Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games slots for those teams not already qualified.
Results are available at the official Championships website here.
Games took place in two venues: The Rostock Stadthalle and OSPA Arena with Stadthalle staging the finals.