Olympic Champion Norway enters semifinal at women's handball worlds

09:53, December 16, 2009      

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Olympic Champion Norway snatched a semifinal ticket at the 2009 women's handball World Championship after outgunning Spain 27-24 in the final day of the main round stage here on Tuesday.

It was a rematch of the 2008 European Championship final, when Norway trounced Spain 34-21 to claim the title. However, as the reigning Olympic titlist Norway failed to find their form at the first half. Linn Kristin Riegelhuth's fast break in the twelfth minute gave Norway the first chance to take the lead (6-5), before they suffered from an embarrassing 2-9 slip and fell behind 8-14 at the interval.

When the game resumed, Camilla Herrem scored four times in the first ten minutes to pace the reloaded Norway, narrowing the margin to just one point with a 6-1 spurt. The two teams exchanged goals and the deadlock remained unbroken until the Norwegians surged a 6-3 run in the last 10 minutes to secured the victory.

Riegelhuth led the Norwegian side with 7 goals and Macarena Aguilar scored a team-high 6 for Spain. The Olympic champion in Beijing Games did quite a good job in counter-attacking with 11 points earned from fast breaks, while the opponent only got one.

Norway finished first in Group two of the main round competitions and will face defending champion Russia, who defeated Denmark 30-25, in the semifinal. Although tasted a sour defeat, Spain also got a semifinal ticket by seizing the second place in the group, they will face France in Friday's semifinal. The latter one outclassed Austria 35-20 today.

Host China of Group two failed to grab a victory in the main round after they lost 21-25 to Hungary, the fourth placer in Beijing Olympics. African titlist Angola also surrendered a 21-25 defeat to Germany, finishing at the bottom of Group one.

Source: Xinhua
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