Olympic champion France has fought its way into the semi-finals of the European Handball Championship with an unbelievable race to catch up.
The team around top star Nikola Karabatic made up for a five-goal deficit against the already qualified world champion Denmark in the last twelve minutes of the decisive main round game and even won the group with the 30:29 (12:17) success.
Dika Mem and Hugo Descat were the top scorers with eight goals for France, who now face Sweden in Friday’s semi-finals. The brave Icelanders suffered, who would have reached the European Championship semi-finals for the first time since 2010 in the event of a French defeat, which had been probable for a long time.
The Icelanders had previously beaten Montenegro 34:24 (17:8) in their last game in main round group I in Budapest. Omar Ingi Magnusson from SC Magdeburg was his team’s most successful scorer with eleven goals. France suffered the heaviest defeat in their European Championship history against Iceland on Saturday with 21:29 and were under enormous pressure because of the lost direct comparison against the Danes.
In the second semi-final, also on Friday in Budapest, Denmark will now face defending champion Spain in a giant duel, who had prevailed in the German main round group II. The selection of the German Handball Federation (DHB) landed back home on Wednesday. Alfred Gislason’s team finished the tournament in seventh place.