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04 Aug 2012
London 2012 , IOC News , Handball

Iceland, Croatia wins light Copper Box - London 2012 - Handball

The medal contenders made their intentions clear on Day 8 at the Copper Box, with Iceland, Croatia and Spain among the big winners in the men's competition.

Iceland exacted revenge for their Beijing 2008 final defeat to France with a thrilling 30-29 victory in Group A of the preliminary stage.

With both teams having won their opening three games, this was billed as the group decider and it lived up to the hype in a pulsating clash.

The Scandinavians, still hurting from their silver medal in China, made the early running, taking a 6-3 lead after 10 minutes that had turned into a four-goal advantage by the midway point of the first half.

They kept France at a distance, still maintaining a four-goal advantage with five minutes of the opening period to play.

But France, who are also reigning world champions, finished strongly and threw six of the next eight goals in to reduce that deficit back to just one at the interval, going in 16-15 down.

They turned it around after the break following another strong period to lead for the first time at 22-21 and when they threw in back-to-back goals to take a 25-23 lead midway through the second half, the match was there for the taking.

But Iceland refused to give up and soon levelled, and after the trading of goals for the final few minutes they were able to earn a decisive two-goal lead with 90 seconds remaining, which left France with too much to do.

Earlier, Croatia had sent out a strong message by comfortably seeing off gold medal contenders Denmark 32-21.

Both sides had come into the match with 100 per cent records in Group B, but the eastern Europeans, two-time Olympic Games gold medallists, made their move by throwing in five unanswered efforts in the run-up to half-time to take a 14-9 lead at the break - and they never looked back.

Tunisia sent Host Nation Great Britain out of the competition with a 34-17 victory, while Sweden booked their place in the quarter-finals with a 29-13 win over Argentina and Serbia beat Republic of Korea 28-22.

Meanwhile, Spain booked their place in the quarter-finals with a 33-22 victory over Hungary, whose Olympic Games fate will be decided in the final round of preliminary matches.

Hungary, whose top scorer was Laszlo Nagy with seven, had no answer and they will go head-to-head in Sunday's final Group B game with Serbia to see who advances to the last eight.

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