CAIRO (Reuters) – Sweden caused a major upset to reach the world handball championship final after superb individual performances from winger Hampus Wanne and goalkeeper Andreas Palicka gave them a 32-26 win over more heralded France on Friday.
Wanne tormented his markers on the left flank throughout and finished with a game-high 11 goals and right wing Daniel Pettersson netted six from as many shots, while Palicka racked up 11 saves in a high-tempo contest.
Sweden took the game by the scruff of the neck after a see-saw opening 15 minutes and never looked back after turning a 7-6 deficit into 12-8 lead in the closing stages of the first half.
Having created space on either flank all evening, the Swedes were also lethal on fast breaks against a tired-looking French team who never looked like pulling off another comeback after beating Hungary in overtime to reach the semis.
The French gave themselves a glimmer a hope of when they slashed the deficit to 23-20 midway through the second half but Sweden responded superbly and the match was over as a contest when Wanne netted to make it 29-24.
The Swedes, who won the last of their four world titles in 1999 in Cairo, will meet either Denmark or Spain in Sunday’s final. France, who have a record six titles to their name, take on the losers of that semi in the bronze medal playoff.
World and Olympic champions Denmark take on European title holders Spain in a mouth-watering clash later on Friday after they reached the last four in contrasting fashion.
Spain breezed to a 31-26 win over Norway in the quarter-finals while Denmark edged hosts Egypt 39-38 after double overtime and a penalty shootout in the 32-nation tournament’s most entertaining clash.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Edititng by Christian Radnedge)