Sweden's centre back Jim Gottfridsson (R) shoots past France's right back Nedim Remili (front) during the 2021 World Men's Handball Championship semifinal match between France and Sweden at the Cairo Stadium Sports Hall in the Egyptian capital on January 29, 2021 (AFP)
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.
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