Slovakia produced a huge comeback to lead the way in Bratislava in the women’s EuroHockey Championship III, heading the table after the first series of matches.
In the final game of day one, they trailed 2-0 after 16 minutes to Italy – playing in their first Euro competition after a decade away – as Alessia Anania and Ilaria Sarnari’s penalty corner had them flying high.
But Barbora Pucherova and Lenka Horáčková started the turnaround with goals in quick succession and they took advantage of an extra player in the third quarter to score the winner, Karolina Vyskočová netting from play for 3-2.
The Italians had enjoyed the dream start when they defeated Portugal 3-2. Daniela Nunes got the opening goal but Italy replied via Eleonora di Mauro and Lisa di Blasi. Ana Nogueira tied it up at 2-2 before Maria Torbol grabbed the winner.
In game two, Slovakia left it late to draw 4-4 with Portugal in a topsy turvy fixture. Portugal got the only goal of the first half through captain Claudia Fidalgo but were 3-2 down by the end of the third quarter with two goals from Pucherova playing a vital part.
Portugal returned to the lead when Nogueira and Nunes added to their tallies, making it 4-3 by the 32nd minute and it remained that way until the last minute when Vanessa Čapová scored to level things.
The series will be repeated on Sunday at the end of which the top two will advance to the final for the overall title.