HERNING, Denmark (Reuters) – Olympic handball champions Denmark clinched their maiden world title after an impressive 31-22 win over fellow Scandinavians Norway on home court in a lop-sided final on Sunday.
Roared on by a capacity 15,000 crowd in Herning’s Jyske Bank Boxen Arena, the Danes never looked back after moving into a 9-5 lead midway through the first half and made it a perfect 10 victories from as many matches at the tournament.
Having beaten the Norwegians 30-26 in the preliminary group stage of the 24-nation tournament, the hosts thrived on a string of superb saves by goalkeeper Niklas Landin and a balanced workload in attack from their top performers.
Backcourt shooters Rasmus Lauge, Mikkel Hansen and Mads Mensah Larsen scored 10 goals between them in the opening 30 minutes as Denmark romped into an 18-11 halftime lead.
The Norwegians, who enjoyed their second successive podium finish after losing the 2017 final to France, fought hard to stay in touch but could not keep up as the Danes increased their advantage to 26-15 midway through the second half.
Denmark kept their feet on the gas in the final 15 minutes as Hansen led the home side with seven goals and finished as the tournament’s top scorer with 72 from 10 games.
Morten Toft Olsen added five goals for the Danes while Lauge, Larsen and winger Lasse Svan chipped in with four each.
Magnus Jondal stood out for Norway with nine goals from 11 shots but his valiant individual performance was not enough to stop a Danish side firing on all cylinders.
The third-place match produced a thriller as France edged Germany 26-25 and claimed the bronze medal thanks to a buzzer-beater by playmaker Nikola Karabatic.
The lead changed hands several times in the closing stages before the Germans threw away their last possession and allowed Karabatic to force the final twist with his solitary goal in a rugged and physical contest.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ken Ferris)