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World titlists Germany shut out of top eight at Beijing Olympic men's handball
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09:22, August 19, 2008

World titlists Germany missed their chance to compete in the quarterfinals at Beijing Olympic men's handball event after losing 21-27 to European champion Denmark on Monday.

It was a duplicate of the European Championship semifinal played in January 2008, when Denmark edged out world champion Germany 26-25 on the way to claim the continental title after years of near-misses in major competitions.

"We paid special attention to our defence today, taking good care of their key players. The German team slowly got tired in the second half, but we have eleven to twelve players to put into the court," said Danish coach Ulrik Wilbek.

Danish left back Lasse Boesen scored five points in the first half to bring Denmark a 15-12 lead and added three in the second. After defeating Germany, Denmark finished second in Group B.

"We did not start the tournament very well. In fact we rarely enjoyed a good start in all tournaments and we have already got used to finish second in the group. But our team is in a very good condition, without any player bothered by injury. We are looking forward to the quarterfinal match,"added Wilbek.

Denmark's victory also made Russia's earlier win meaningful. After beating South Korea 29-22 in their last preliminary game on Monday, Russia kept their quarterfinal chance alive. However, if Denmark and Germany finished with a draw, Russia still had to pack up their luggage for the return flight.

"Our key to win today's game is fighting together. Every player played well and our teamwork was at the best level. I am not afraid of the draw of the two teams. The possibility is just so slim," said Russia's coach Vladimir Maksimov in a post-match conference.

Vitaly Ivanov scored the opening goal for Russia in the first minute before Russia enjoyed a 12-6 run 17 minutes into the game. The South Korean team, who had already clinched their berth in the final eight, appeared absent-minded in the court, with their leaking defence constantly broken through by the combative Russians.

"We knew that South Korea is a fast team so we spread the field. We were not in a hurry to attack. We wanted to slow the match down and focus on maintaining our positions. The South Korean team had already qualified for the quarterfinals so maybe they didn't play their hardest," Russian left winger Timur Dibirov.

Host China received their fifth straight defeat after being outgunned by reigning gold medalists Croatia 22-33. Although the hosts gained a flying start with a 13-9 lead twenty minutes into the game, Croatia responded with eight unanswered goals to silence a crowd of 5,000 cheering local fans.

Owing to ace shooter Snorri Gudjonsson's last second equalizer, Iceland also secured their quarterfinal berth after tying 32-32 with African champion Egypt. Trailing one point in the last moment, Gudjonsson replaced the goalkeeper to strengthen their attack. Still wearing the keeper's shirt, Gudjonsson saved the team with his diving shot.

Spain also found their name in the top eight after outscoring Brazil 36-35. While France tied with Poland 30-30 to finished top of Group A.


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1 China 39 14 14 67
2 USA 22 24 26 72
4 Great Britain 12 7 8 27
3 Australia 11 10 12 33
5 Germany 9 7 7 23
6 Russian Fed. 8 13 15 36
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