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Poland’s handball players ended their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a resounding 31-14 (16-9) victory over Latvia in Ostrow Wielkopolski. A few days ago, the white and red team secured their place in the finals, which will be hosted by Germany, with a win over Italy.
It was the first time the Polish handball team played in Ostrow Wielkopolski, and for coach Marcin Lijewski, it held special significance as he was born in nearby Krotoszyn and also trained at the local club Ostrovii.
Lijewski, who made his coaching debut in the Thursday match against Italy, made four changes to the lineup compared to the previous game. He brought in Marcel Jastrzębski, Arkadiusz Ossowski, Dawid Dawydzik, and debutant Ksawery Gajek from KPR Arged Ostrovia.
Szymon Sicco opened the scoring, and Marcel Jastrzębski didn’t let Ricards Juzups score from a penalty kick shortly after. The hosts continued to score, causing Latvian coach Davor Cutura to call a time-out in the 7th minute, with the score at 6-1. The coach’s advice helped the Latvians, and the game evened out for a long time. Juzups was particularly hard to handle in this part of the game.
Piotr Jędraszczyk, 21, had an excellent game for the white and red team, distributing the ball accurately and scoring four goals himself. Fans loved seeing two consecutive goals scored into the empty Latvian net by Sicco and Dawydzik.
At halftime, former national team player Krzysztof Lijewski, Marcin’s brother and current assistant coach of Talant Dujszebajew at Barlinka Kielce, was officially bid farewell. In the years 2003-2017, the younger of the siblings played 188 games for Poland, scoring 448 goals.
In the second half, goalkeeper Jakub Skrzyniarz guarded the hosts’ goal, making some impressive saves. This allowed the white and red team to increase their lead to a double-digit difference (22-11). With less than 15 minutes to go, the Latvians withdrew their goalkeeper in favor of a seventh field player.
The significant lead allowed the Polish coach to use all his players. As a result, twelve players scored goals, and the white and red team beat Latvia for the fifth time in six direct encounters.