Host nation Sweden settled for fourth place at the IHF Handball World Championships
by Chipp Reid
Sweden settled for fourth place at the 2011 IHF Handball World Championships after losing to France in the semifinals and Spain in the bronze-medal game.
Denmark took the silver as the French defended their 2009 world title. For France, it was the fourth major handball championship in a row, the first time a nation has held all four major championships in 37 years.
The French held off the Danes, claiming a 37-35 win in overtime Jan. 30 in Malmo.
Sweden lost to France 42-21 in the semifinals then dropped the bronze-medal match 24-23 to Spain.
Host nation Sweden and 2005 champions Spain locked horns in arguably the best match of the tournament outside of the final. Goalkeeping dominated the first half as Arpad Sterbik and Johan Sjöstrand were at their acrobatic best at either side of the hard wood.
After taking an early lead, Sweden fell behind 4-2 at 9;46 of the first half only to rally and take a 5-4 lead on goals by Oscar Carlen, Jonas Jacobdsson and Johan Larholm. The score see-sawed throughout the remainder of the first half as the Swedes would grab a one-goal lead only to see Spain equalizer. The Blue and Yellow were up 11-10 withone second remaining in the first half when Spain again tied the score on a goal from Iker Romero Fernandez. The tally was the Spaniard’s third in the first half.
Sweden managed to build a three-goal lead by 38:03 of the second half as Carlsson scored three times to put the hosts up 16-13. The early deficit woke up Spain as Roberto Garcia Farrondo and Romero Fernandez led the 2005 champions on a 6-0 spurt that put the visitors up 19-16 at 43:13 of the second half.
After a time out, Sweden again rallied, as the crowd of 12,000 urged it on. The Blue and Yellow mounted a furious comeback, with game high-scorer Jonas Kallman scored three of his six goals in the final six minutes. Sweden managed to tie the score at 21-21 on Kallman’s sixth goal of the game at 53:39. Spain again took the lead 22-21 but Niklas Ekberg leveled. Spain scored two quick goals to take a 24-22 lead at 57:45. Larholm got Sweden within one with 39 seconds left to play, but Spain managed to cling to its lead and claimed third place.
“It was a tough and hard match for our team, but in the end I am proud of what we did during the game,” said Swedish coach Staffan Olsson. “My players fought until the very end and tried hard to win. In the end the Spaniards were the lucky team.”