Germany are through to the semifinals of the European handball championship following a last-minute victory over Denmark. The national team now moves on to face Norway in their bid to win a second European title.
Germany came back from a 13-12 deficit at the half to beat Denmark 25-23 in Wroclaw on Wednesday to advance to the semifinals of the European championship for the first time since 2008.
The victory was particularly sweet as the Germans, the youngest team in the tournament, went into the game as the underdogs, with six of their best players ruled out due to injury.
The Danes had the better start to the match, taking a 4-2 lead in the first seven minutes, but as the game wore on the Germany got stronger. The game wasn't decided until the last couple of minutes, when Tobias Reichmann converted a penalty to break a 23-23 tie. Fabian Wiede soon increased Germany's lead to two goals, but Denmark fought desperately to draw level, forcing goalkeeper Andreas Wolff into two key saves to preserve the victory.
"I am just very excited after this great fight. Denmark were the strong opponents we expected, but we played the style that had made us strong in the last few matches," Wolff said afterwards.
"It was a fantastic performance," Germany coach Dagur Sigurdsson told ARD public television after the match. On Thursday morning, though, the coach was less ecstatic as he turned his attention to Germany's next opponent, Norway, whom they will face in the semifinals in Krakow on Friday.
"Of course I am happy about reaching the semifinals," the coach said. "Now, though, we are completely focused and want to achieve the maximum."
Excitement back home
While handball trails far behind football in terms of fan support in Germany, the sport does generate a lot of interest when the national team plays in a major tournament. This one is no exception, with an estimated 5.6 million people having tuned into Wednesday's game on German television.
Germany have only won the European championship on one previous occasion, in 2004.
pfd/ (dpa, SID)