British handball men suffer heavy defeat by Italy in qualifier

Steven Larsson

Great Britain's hopes of qualifying for the 2016 European Championships were effectively ended with a crushing 47-23 defeat by Italy in Scotland.

Britain lost their opening qualifier in Greece in October and despite the return of Steven Larsson who top-scored with seven goals, they were outclassed.

"It's a disappointing score because we are better than that," keeper Bobby White told BBC Sport.

"There were a lot of silly mistakes from all of us."

White continued: "A lot of new and young players have come into the squad but we can all learn from this."

Needing to top their group to progress to the next phase of Euro qualifying, GB sit bottom of Group B with no points - behind leaders Greece who have four points and Italy with two.

Even if Britain won their two remaining fixtures and the Italians pulled off a surprise win over Greece, the team's goal difference of -53 is likely to prove an insurmountable handicap.

With the sport unable to cover players' match expenses to attend the fixture, the GB squad of 16 featured just five of their Olympic line-up, including Larsson.

Great Britain had beaten the Italians in March 2011 but an inexperienced team were unable to thwart their opponents' break-away attacks.

Michele Skatar top-scored for the visitors with nine while seven-goal star Pasquale Maione also impressed on the night.

"We have a very young team and there are a lot of talented young players coming through but we're in that transitional phase at the moment," said Chris McDermott, who scored three times on his 50th appearance for Great Britain.

"Maybe in the immediate future we're not going to get the results we're after but we're building and I think we can do great things in the years to come."

Great Britain will play their final home qualifier on Sunday against Greece in Crystal Palace before completing the group stage fixtures with a trip to Italy in June.

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