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Roundup: Russia to take on Norway in Olympic women's handball final
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08:45, August 22, 2008

World champion Russia and European titlist Norway will meet in the final of the Beijing Olympic women's handball event, after both survived the semifinal tussle on Thursday.

European champion Norway managed a narrow escape after beating South Korea 29-28 with a last-moment controversial goal.

Lagging behind 27-28 15 seconds before the buzzer, South Korea hurled in the equalizer in a fast assault with only six seconds on the clock. However, the Norwegians launch a lightning counter-attack. Center back Gro Hammerseng's surprising goal at the last moment left both teams bewildered in the court.

The South Korean squad insisted that the goal was netted after the buzzer, and refused to leave the court after referees endorsed Norway's victory. South Korean coach Lim Young-chul argued with technical officials on the matter for about half an hour before their departure.

Kim Jin-soo, vice president of South Korean Handball Association, announced in the mixed zone that according to the video replay from South Korean media, the ball was hurled into the net two seconds after the match ended. And South Korea might file an official application for arbitration.

Compared with Norway, world champions Russia enjoyed a more convincing victory, muscling out Hungary 22-20 in other semifinal.

Right back Irina Bliznova netted home three times to give Russia a 5-2 surge nine minutes into the game. And the Russians further extended their lead midway through the first half with five unanswered goals, leading the half 14-9.

Although Hungary, fifth placer at Athens Games, mounted a fierce counterattack after the game resumed, Russia maintained the margin till the end of the game, with center back Irina Poltoratskaya scoring twice in the final five minutes to seal the team's first-ever Olympic final ticket.

"We have already tried our best, but we still made some mistakes during the game. Russia did quite well in their defence, and their goalkeeper made a lot of impressive saves. They deserve the victory," said Hungarian coach Janos Hajdu, whose squad has already suffered a defeat to Russia in the round-robin stage.

"This is the first time for a Russian Women's Handball team to make it to the final at the Olympics. We never imagined that we could make it here. We feel very happy and lucky," said Russian goalie Inna Suslina, who blocked 16 out of 33 shots to dismay the opponents.

Host China edged Olympic debutant Sweden 20-19 in a 5th-8th playoff and will fight for the fifth place against France, who downed Romania 36-34 in a pulsating two-overtime thriller.

Source:Xinhua

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1 China 46 15 22 83
2 USA 28 34 31 93
3 Great Britain 17 11 11 39
4 Russia 16 16 19 51
5 Australia 11 13 14 38
6 Germany 11 8 12 31
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