Denmark edge Sweden to retain world handball crown

Handball - 2021 IHF Handball World Championship - Gold Medal Match - Denmark v Sweden - Cairo Stadium Hall 1, Cairo, Egypt - January 31, 2021 Denmark's Mathias Gidsel celebrates with the trophy and teamates after winning the Gold Medal Match REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

CAIRO (Reuters) - Denmark won their second successive men's world handball championship after an outstanding performance by goalkeeper Niklas Landin helped them to a pulsating 26-24 win over Sweden in the final on Sunday.

Landin racked up 15 saves and Denmark's left back Mikkel Hansen netted seven goals to keep Olympic champions Denmark at the summit after a titanic tussle in the Cairo Stadium Hall.

Earlier on Sunday, European champions Spain won the bronze medal with a 35-29 win over France on the back of eight goals from back-court shooter Alex Dujshebaev.

Sweden, who won the last of their four world titles at the same venue in 1999, held their own against their more heralded neighbours for three quarters of the high-octane contest but they were undone by Landin in the last 15 minutes.

Having scored three goals in the opening stages, Hansen was tightly marked by a robust Swedish defence and the teams were level 13-13 at halftime as Denmark scrapped a two-goal deficit.

The Swedes looked on the verge of staging an upset as they led 19-18 midway through the second half before the effervescent Landin inspired a 5-1 Denmark run with a series of stops which forced the final twist.

Second-choice right back Nikolaj Oris Nielsen also played a pivotal role as he stepped in for injured winger Lasse Svan Hansen and netted five goals from as many shots.

Landin stressed keeping turnovers down to a minimum was instrumental for Denmark.

"We were disciplined and didn't have too many occasions when we threw the ball away and got punished for it," the 32-year-old goalkeeper told Danish television.

"That is what the Swedes have done throughout the tournament, and we took that from them. And then we fight as a team. Across the board, a fantastic team effort."

Coach Nikolaj Jacobsen added: "Sweden made it difficult for us and we wasted too many chances in the opening 40 minutes, but defence and a world-class goalkeeper brought it home."

The 2023 tournament will be co-hosted by Sweden and Poland.

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Additional reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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