Lithuania and Israel win Opening Goalball Event of 2017

Great Britain stop a goal (Photo: Pajulahti Games)

Lithuania and Israel have claimed wins in the Pajulahti Games hosted in Finland on Sunday as Lithuania won the men’s and Israel won the women’s competition. The goalball tournament saw strong competition with a number of strong European nations participating in the first tournament of the goalball season.

Lithuania showed why they are the best men’s team in the world as they recovered from their poor performance in the group stages to win the tournament. Lithuania beat Finland II 11-7 and lost to Germany 8-6 and Belgium 9-3 in the group stages.

But through the knock-out rounds Lithuania came to their best form, defeating their reserves team in the quarter-finals 7-4. From there they then took revenge on Belgium winning 8-6 in the semi-final and then defeated Germany 8-2 in the final. Belgium went on to beat Finland II 11-1.

The brightest spark of the men’s tournament was Finland’s Erkki Miinala who managed to score 34 goals in the tournament. For Lithuania their highest scorer was Nerijus Motvydas who was well behind Miinala with 18.

Much like the men’s champions Israel also had a mixed tournament losing twice on the way through to the semi-finals. They opened with a loss to Russia 9-4 before recovering to beat Finland 3-1, which was followed by another loss, 5-0 to Great Britain. That saw Israel need a win in their last match to qualify, which they did with a 7-1 win against Spain.

Yet again the knock-out stages saw the third placed team exact some revenge over their rivals that they lost to in the group. Israel beat Great Britain 6-2 in the semi-final before beating Russia 9-4 in the final to win the tournament. Finland took bronze as they beat Great Britain 3-0, with Israeli Lihi Ben David finishing the top scorer with 23 points.

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