by Chipp Reid

The 2011 Handball Championships, being played in Sweden, used a complicated point system to determine the tournament’s final four. Each team played five preliminary group games and advanced to either a seeded group or a playoff group. Sweden, with four wins in the first round, advanced to a seeded group where it won three of four games.

Denmark sailed through group play unbeaten in its eight games.
The Scandinavian rivals met Jan. 25 in Malmö to determine where they would land in the semifinals. Both teams already qualified for the final four based on group play. The winner would take the top spot and it was the Danes who came out on top.

Denmark, behind five goals from Mikkel Hansen, raced out to a 17-11 first-half lead. The Danes swarmed over the previously steady Swedish defense, although Tre Kronor head coach Staffan Olsson rested several of his first-team players.

Sweden fell behind 25-17 in the second half before finally mounting a prolonged rally. Kim Ekdahl du Reitz and Niklas Ekberg led the late charge. Ekberg scored three times in the final four minutes while Ekdahl had two of his five goals in the second half. The comeback ran out of time, however, and the Swedes fell 27-24.
Hansen led all scorers in the game with six goals.

The loss put Sweden into the Malmö semifinal,, where it faces reigning world champions France. Denmark takes on 2005 world champions Spain Jan. 28 in Kristianstad.