Four unbeaten teams secure Olympic quarter-final spots
The quarter-final line-up in the men’s handball tournament at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is gradually taking shape after Wednesday’s third round of matches in the group phase.
Four teams have won all their matches so far and, with two more games to play, cannot drop out of the top four of their respective group anymore: France and Spain in group A as well as Denmark and Sweden in B.
Especially defending champions Denmark have been impressive, winning with big margins and building a goal difference of +32 – though they have Portugal and Sweden left as their last opponents in the group phase.
Highlights of day 3 were two tight clashes that went to the wire, between France and Germany (30:29) in group A and Sweden and Portugal (29:28) in B.
Norway vs Argentina 27:23 (13:12)
- Norway went 9:3 up in the opening 16 minutes but failed to keep the pressure on their opponents, enabling Argentina to close the gap by half-time
- at 23:21 with just 10 minutes to go, Argentina were still hopeful of their first points but two Kevin Gulliksen goals helped Norway on their way to a decisive 27:22 lead
- Sander Sagosen with seven goals and Magnus Jøndal with six led for Norway
Brazil vs Spain 25:32 (16:18)
- Brazil went four goals up within 10 minutes (8:4) and Spain needed until the 29th minute to take their first lead when Ferran Sole netted for 17:16
- Spain were still only two goals ahead (26:24) in the 54th but their 6:0 run in the next five minutes proved too much for Brazil
- 11 different players scored for Spain, who have qualified for the knockout phase of the competition
France vs Germany 30:29 (16:13)
- nail-biting match which saw France come out on top, mainly thanks to their strong first half when they built a lead of up to seven goals (14:7)
- the result guaranteed France, the 2008 and 2012 champions, a place in the next round
- another heartbreak result for Germany, the 2016 bronze medallists, who earlier lost a close battle with Spain by a single goal as well
Denmark vs Bahrain 31:21 (12:7)
- Bahrain had brought Sweden and Portugal on the brink of defeat but were never in the lead against Denmark, who went 5:1 up early on and led by five at the break
- the margin became a double-digit figure for the first time when Magnus Saugstrup made it 25:15 in the 48th minute
- Johan Hansen led with a perfect six from six for Denmark, who have comfortably booked their quarter-final spot
Sweden vs Portugal 29:28 (14:14)
- close call once again for Sweden – led by nine Niclas Ekberg goals – who have gathered three narrow wins to see them through to the quarter-final
- Sweden failed to score in the last six minutes (29:25) and only just held on to their lead when Portugal’s Miguel Martins had his last-second attempt blocked
- Portugal (on two points) are left with a tricky battle with Egypt (four), Bahrain and Japan (both zero) for the two remaining quarter-final places
Japan vs Egypt 29:33 (11:18)
- Egypt were leading from the start and finished the first half on a 6:2 run for a comfortable seven-goal lead at the break
- the quarter-finalists from their home World Championship 2021 have all but secured their place in the quarter-final, with four points
- Shinnosuke Tokuda netted eight times for Japan, who must beat Bahrain and Portugal in the last two group matches to stand any chance of advancing
Detailed results and schedule are available on the official Olympics homepage.
All Tokyo 2020 photos courtesy of IHF.