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Denmark dethrones France to become Olympic handball champions

The Associated Press

Denmark dethrones France to become Olympic handball champions

Denmark put on an exceptional display to win their first-ever Olympic men's handball gold medal. 

There's a new champion in men's handball after Denmark outclassed 2008 and 2012 champions France 28-26 in the final, claiming the gold medal. 

Denmark's offensive strategy early on involved taking out their keeper during moments of possession. By removing him, Denmark were able to bring seven outfielders into attacking position and own the one man advantage over France. It was a strategy that paid off, as France had issues conceding the overlap while Casper Mortensen and Lasse Svan poached from the left and right wings. 

That strategy doesn't come without its risks, though. The extra player left open the net for Denmark, and France were quick to take advantage of it by scoring off turnovers and good saves by Thierry Omeyer. 

Daniel Narcisse and Nikola Karabatic expertly moved the ball around the perimeter, using their agility and presence to draw the Danish back line out of position. France, versatile in their scoring options, often looked to open the gap in the center.

Nikola Karabatic got injured in a tangle in the final 10 minutes of the second half and was off the court during the rest of the half. His absence provided Denmark with a bit more comfort in attackign movement. 
Hansen continued to be Denmark's on-court general, dictating his team's pace to chomp down on the French defense, and he was picking it apart in the first half. The two-time World Player of the year proved why he's been given that title twice. Even when he was pushed back to the nine meter mark, his power was just too much for Omeyer. He scored seven goals in the first half.
Once he got hot, Hansen's presence drew the attention of the French defense - as it often did the entire competition, leaving Svan all alone from the wing to pick apart the thinned out French defense. 
France continued having issues with Hansen in the beginning stages of the second half as well. The back line just gave the Dane enough space to bury the ball from the top of that perimeter. 
But Karabatic's return was a relieving sight to see. He led the way to keep France fired up and did equally impressive work in the center, forcing his way into the six meter line twice.
Denmark still held a narrow two goal advantage in the final 15 minutes of play, still moving the ball around incredibly well and finding space against the French back line. The Danish back line was equally impressive, pushing forward against France and forcing the turnover to get up to a four goal lead. 
It looked like they would finally begin to pull away from France with Daniel Narcisse serving a two minute suspension. Denmark took full advantage of it, working the ball seamlessly around the court in Narcisse's absence. 
But if Denmark wanted to be Olympic champions, they'd have to remain composed when tension mounted in the final 10 minutes of play. They faced that test as France brought the lead back to three and owned a one man advantage during Svan's two minute suspension. 
France have some of the toughest players in the center of the court, and Narcisse as pivot is an incredibly difficult opponent to mark. The Frenchman used his athleticism and experience (he was a part of France's 2008 and 2012 gold medal teams) to bring his team within two goals. In the final five minutes of play, France held the momentum to try and stun the optimistic Danes. 
Karabtic continued to keep his team afloat, bringing them back within one in the final three minutes. 
But - in the final minute - Karabatic was called for taking too many steps leading up to a shot (only three steps allowed before dribbling or passing) and Denmark quickly got the three goal lead to shut the door on France and claim the country's first men's gold medal. 

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