ZAGREB (Reuters) – An avalanche of goals were scored at the European handball championships on Monday as France brushed aside Serbia 39-30 and Sweden beat Belarus 29-20 with both nations edging closer to the 16-nation tournament’s semi-finals.
The French remained the only team with a 100 percent record and stayed top of main round’s Group I with eight points from four games, followed by Sweden and hosts Croatia on six each.
Fourth-placed Norway are on four points and also have an outside chance of reaching the semis ahead of the last round of games in their section.
In Group II, leaders Denmark and holders Germany have a day off on Tuesday as Spain take on Slovenia while Macedonia clash with the Czech Republic. Denmark top the group with six points from four games, followed by Spain with four points from three.
The top two teams from each group will advance to Friday’s semi-finals, with the final scheduled for Sunday.
Shambolic Serbian defending allowed France to stroll to another emphatic win without hitting top gear in the tournament’s highest-scoring contest, as their defensive specialist Luka Karabatic rifled in seven goals.
Karabatic thrived on the playmaking skills of his more illustrious brother Nikola, who dished out assists like confetti against Serbia who had earlier lost any chance of reaching the medal rounds.
Raphael Caucheteux also netted seven times for world champions France, who seem to have plenty left in the tank for the business end of the tournament.
Sweden used their trademark fast breaks to devastating effect against Belarus, having carved out a 9:4 lead in the opening 15 minutes.
Belarus reduced the deficit to 16:14 early in the second half before Sweden pulled away again with a 7-1 streak and ran out easy winners.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)