SKorea clip Russia to book handball semi-final spot

Wednesday, August 08, 2012    

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LONDON, England (AP) — South Korea first defeated the 2008 silver medallists. Now they face the 2008 champions.

The South Koreans edged Russia 24-23 at the Olympic women's handball competition yesterday to set up a semi-final against Norway.

Gwon Han-na scored six times for South Korea, who won the title in 1988 and finished third at the Beijing Games.

"No, it's too early to think about the title, we still have two difficult matches," said right back Ryu Eun-hee. "We will relax a little now and focus just on the semi-final."

South Korea rallied from 2-0 down to lead 6-2. Russia levelled in the second half at 15-15 and later at 22-22 but never went in front again.

Earlier, Norway battled their way past Brazil, coming back from a six-goal deficit in the second half to win 21-19.

Spain also advanced and will take on France or Montenegro in the semi-finals. Left winger Elisabeth Pinedo Saenz scored seven times to help Spain defeat Olympic newcomer Croatia 25-22.

It's the first time that Spain, who won bronze at last year's World Championships, reached the final four at the Olympics.

"I still can't believe we are here in the tournament," Pinedo Saenz said. "We took it step by step, it's incredible," Spain coach Jorge Duenas De Galarza said after reaching the semi-finals.

Neither team dominated the game until Croatia's key player Andrea Penezic injured her left ankle when her team led 15-14 in the second half. When the right back briefly returned on the field, she found her team trailing 22-19.

The defeat ended Croatia's remarkable run in their first Olympics. They lost their opening Group A match against Brazil but recorded four straight wins afterward.

Two goals in the last four minutes by Camilla Herrem and Linn-Kristin Riegelhuth Koren helped Norway stay on course for their Olympic title defence.

Top scorer Alexandra Nascimento scored five times to help Brazil build a 15-9 lead early in the second half, before Norway finally founds their stride and denied the South Americans a first ever Olympic semi-final.

Norway have been the dominant force in women's handball in recent years, holding the Olympic, world and European titles simultaneously. But the team only qualified as fourth in Group B after losing to both France and Spain.



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