Portugal stole a late 10-8 victory to qualify for the latter stages and leave Belarus with the wooden spoon in Group B.
It certainly was a game of two halves as Belarus stormed into a surprise 4-1 lead at the first interval thanks to goals from captain Sviatlana Arlova (2), Alena Faschanka and Sviatlana Kampanouskaya.
In the end, though, their opponent’s superior fitness got the better of them. Portugal did the same in the third quarter, goals from Flavia Pachelo (2), Ines Braga and Marta Ribeiro put them on level terms at 6-6.
Portugal’s leading goalscorer Mariana Sarmento equalised after Faschanka’s opening but missed a penalty soon afterwards.
The Portuguese number three, who had earlier been displaced as the tournament’s leading scorer, looked a one-woman team in the first half as she converted Portugal’s second to take them into half time trailing 5-2.
Three quickfire goals in the final quarter from Sarmento, Fatima Airosa and Braga seemed to have won the game for Portugal.
Belarus would not lay down, though and Alena Panchuk and Alena Samsonova got them to within a goal but Sarmento had the last word as she grabbed her fourth of the game.
photos Janos Schmidt