Denmark tops Sweden in march toward handball world crown

Olympic gold medallists Denmark and reigning world champions France booked their tickets to the last 16 of the World Handball Championships on Monday.

Denmark tops Sweden in march toward handball world crown
Henrik Toft Hansen on the attack for Denmark. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Scanpix
Denmark saw off Scandinavian rivals Sweden in a hard-fought 27-25 battle in Paris while hosts France and Brazil advanced without playing thanks to Russia's 24-20 win over Poland in the western city of Nantes.
Other teams assured their qualification on the pitch with Spain crushing African minnows Angola 42-22, Slovenia easing past Macedonia 29-22 and Croatia dominating Belarus 31-25.
The Danes lead Group D after three consecutive wins and will be assured of top spot if they beat lowly Bahrain on Wednesday, to avoid meeting France should they beat Russia on Tuesday.
France have six points and cannot be caught by Group A rivals Poland and Japan, who have lost all three of their group matches.
For Sweden it is the first loss at France 2017, but they are still in a good position to qualify on four points.
The four top teams out of six in each group advance to the next round.
The Danes owed their victory largely to captain and goalkeeper Niklas Landin — making 23 saves and voted player of the match — with Henrik Toft Hansen the top scorer with eight goals.
he Olympic champions took a good quarter of an hour to settle after a half a dozen shots on Swedish goalkeeper Mikael Appelgren.
Sweden's anti-Hansen plan worked well in the first period, but the Danes have depth and could also count on Henrik Mollgaard and Kasper Sondergaard to find the net.
Danish indiscipline in the second half — four exclusions in 20 minutes — caused some concern among their many fans.
But with the scores 20-21 ten minutes from the end, the Danes dug deep in a fast and furious game down until the final seconds.
In Group B top spot will be played between Spain and Slovenia on Thursday.
Croatia beat Belarus in Group C and will be up against Germany for top spot on Friday.
Egypt rebooted their campaign by beating Bahrain 31-29 and Hungary dominated Chile 34-29.

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Norway backs out of co-hosting Euro handball champs with Denmark over Covid

Norway has pulled out of co-hosting the women's European handball championship just two weeks before the start in December due to restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic, its federation said on Monday.

Norway backs out of co-hosting Euro handball champs with Denmark over Covid
Denmark playing against Norway at last year's handball world cup in Japan. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

“Based on in-depth assessments by Norwegian health authorities as well as clear demands from Norwegian political authorities, it is now clear that Norway cannot be an organiser of the women's European handball championship,” the federation said.

Denmark is now considering whether to host the event on its own.

Strict restrictions are however currently in place in the North Jutland region, where some of the matches were due to be played, after a mutated version of the virus was found in the country's mink population, infecting 12 people.

The European Handball Federation “very much regrets the decision of the Norwegian government”, it said in a statement, referring to the Norwegian health authorities' refusal to grant exemptions to the strict measures it has imposed.

Under current rules, if a player or team official tests positive for the virus the entire team must quarantine, as well as the teams that it has opposed just prior.

The rules are less strict in Denmark.

“Alternatives are being sought with the Danish Handball Association and additional information will be released on Tuesday at the latest,” the European Handball Federation said.

Norway had been due to host around 60 percent of matches, including the final, in Trondheim.

While Norway has been one of the countries in Europe least affected by the pandemic, it has seen a recent uptick in cases which has led authorities to introduce a series of measures, notably on cultural and sporting events.

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