Denmark vs Sweden 30:26 (13:13)
It was the match that would decide everything, and the 60 minutes delivered a thrilling contest featuring all the ingredients for a top-quality match: strong defence, a great goalkeeper duel between Niklas Landin and Andreas Palicka, fast counter attacks and solid all-round attacking performances.
It was a level game through to the last quarter, when the outcome was decided largely thanks to the increasingly superb game from Denmark captain Niklas Landin, who was named the hummel player of the match. The goalkeeper stopped shot after shot, and Sweden could not close the deficit against them.
In the first half, EHF EURO 2018 runners-up Sweden clearly outscored Denmark on fast breaks, and capitalised on a numerical advantage around the 20-minute mark to open a two-goal distance at 9:7. But by half-time, Denmark had made their way back to an equal score and both recorded almost the same attacking efficiency, leaving all to be decided in the second 30 minutes.
Denmark balanced Sweden’s fast breaks with their positional attack, led by top scorer Mikkel Hansen (six goals). Nikolaj Oris was once again key in the opening minutes, scoring the first three goals for Denmark before Sweden’s defence tightened up on the right back and kept him off the board for the rest of the game.
Denmark changed from 6-0 defence to 5-1 to start the second period, with Magnus Landin – who has become increasingly important for his side in both attack and defence throughout their campaign – in front. After 15 minutes, they had claimed the upper hand, and Rasmus Lauge took them to a three-goal advantage, 23:20 just before the final quarter began.
As Denmark held a steady lead and the clock ticked into the last 10 minutes, Sweden also changed to 5-1 defence and swapped Palicka for Mikael Appelgren, but it was the hosts’ dream that was meant to continue. Although Sweden fought hard to come back, Landin made save after save, and the vital two points that would take Denmark – and carry Norway with them – to the semi-finals were secured when Morten Olsen took Denmark to a 29:24 advantage with just over two minutes left.
Statements after the match:
Nikolaj Jakobsen, coach Denmark: Firstly, I would like to say thank you to Sweden for a tough match. Both teams knew what was at stake for this game. Everyone was nervous. There were a lot of mistakes. We were behind and had lots of misses on their great goalkeeper, but we kept coming back. Niklas [Landin] made great saves in the goal. Ended first half equal.
We were still nervous to begin with in the second half. I think Niklas in goal and the 5-1 defence were the reasons we won. Maybe we won by too much. Sweden is a good team. I like to play against them.
Kristjan Andresson, coach Sweden: Firstly, congratulations to Denmark with the semi-final. We lost to a better team today. We fought, but Denmark was better. We had a lot of speed and many chances. We just couldn’t keep up. I wish Denmark the best of luck in the semifinals.
The last day of Group II matches in the 26th IHF Men’s World Championship main round opened with a thrilling rematch of the 2018 African Championship final. At the continental event, Tunisia celebrated the title – but on Wednesday afternoon in Jyske Bank Boxen, Herning, it was Egypt who took the victory.
The result takes Egypt to three points on the table, where they await the result of the Hungary versus Norway clash to learn their fate regarding the final ranking in Group II.
Norway vs Hungary 35:26 (16:13)
With a place in the semi-finals on the line, Norway had everything to play for. They were therefore expected to put on their best performance in the race for Group II’s tickets to the penultimate stage, and they were relentless as they recorded a nine-goal victory versus Hungary.
Hungary held the upper hand through the opening minutes before the 2017 World Championship runners-up took the lead. In the eighth-minute, they claimed the advantage off Magnus Jondal’s fourth goal – and it was the right wing who pulled them in front to their first two-goal distance in the 10th minute with what was already his fifth.
Norway built a difference as large as five goals, 13:8, before Hungary closed the gap a little by half-time. In the second period, there was no doubt who the two points belonged to, as Norway immediately opened a considerable lead – 20:14 by the 34th – and confidently raced to the final whistle.
In contrast with their last two matches, where seven and then six players found the goal, it was a big effort all round that took Norway to the win over Hungary. By the end of the game, eight players had contributed to the attacking effort, led by Jondal with seven goals and right back Magnus Rod on the same tally. Norway coach Christian Berge used some interesting tactics, often favouring two line players working with Rod and Sander Sagosen, who have been outstanding in leading the back court.
For Hungary, Zsolt Balogh had an exceptional match, scoring a total of 11 goals. But when the back scored his last on a penalty, 31:24, the outcome was clearly decided as the clock showed just five minutes remaining.
The hummel player of the match award went to Jondal.
Statements after the match:
Christian Berge, coach Norway: Firstly, I would like to say thank you for a good match. We had a plan to run a lot today. I told my players in the break to run more, and we did. I’m proud of my team.
Vladan Matic, assistant coach Hungary: Firstly congratulations to Norway. We played without any energy in the second half. It was a very bad day for us today, but that is life sometimes.
Alexander Blonz, player Norway: I agree with my coach. We wanted to run. It didn’t work much in the first half, but it was much in the second half with eight goals in counter attack.
Marton Szekely, player Hungary: Congratulations to Norway. I don’t know what to say. We lost and didn’t reach our goal. We weren’t good in attack. Now we have time to think. Again congratulations to Norway and good luck with the rest of the tournament.
Tunisia vs Egypt 23:30 (10:15)
Egypt coach David Davis mentioned in the press conference after their second main round match, versus Denmark, that his team are focused on growth. That goal was reflected in the starting line-up he chose for the traditional derby against Tunisia. Usual starting centre back Eslam Eissa, star right back Ahmed Elahmar and left back Ali Zeinelabedin began on the bench, while Ahmed Khairy, Yahia Omar and Yehia Elderaa stood on court.
Tunisia had a stronger start before Egypt goalkeeper Karim Hendawy began to cause significant trouble for their opponents. Hendawy made several saves in a row that helped turn the 3:1 game in Tunisia’s favour at the five-minute mark into a 4:3 lead for Egypt in the ninth minute. Tunisia fought their way back to the advantage, 6:4, at the end of the first quarter, and Davis brought in his more experienced players in the 17th minute.
That was a key turning point. Elahmar in particular was dangerous, scoring three goals in his first seven minutes on court and reclaiming a 9:8 lead for Egypt that prompted Tunisia coach Antonio Gerona Salaet to call a time-out. But the time-out appeared to work more in favour of Egypt, as the continental vice-champions pulled away to lead by five goals at the break.
Tunisia restarted the match with Ahmed Amine Bedoui in goal, and he has a strong performance – but Egypt were in control. After 40 minutes, they maintained their five-goal advantage. Tunisia saw a brief glimmer of hope when they closed the gap to 18:21 in the 50th minute, before Egypt streaked ahead to lead 28:20 with five minutes remaining. At that point the match was won.
Omar finished the game with seven goals to his name and earned the hummel player of the match award.
Statements after the match:
David Davis, coach Egypt: Today’s match was a tough one for my team. I don’t read the newspapers, but there was a lot of pressure on us. We tried for the seventh. place, but we doubted ourselves. I’m very happy with the result of both the tournament and today and I also have lots of respect for Tunisia.
Toni Gerona, coach Tunisia: Congratulations to the coach David Davis. He did a great job. This was a tough ending on the tournament for us. We kept being in the match for the first 20 minutes, but then we lost it. I apologise for us all because we gave up. I will take the responsibility for this as the coach. We tried to improve ourselves. Congratulations to Egypt.