Mikkel Hansen and Niklas Landin lead Denmark to second straight world title 

Denmark defeat Sweden in a captivating final in Cairo to reclaim world crown at Egypt 2021. Spain took home bronze.

By Ken Browne

Denmark are world champions once more beating Sweden 26-24 in the final of Egypt 2021 Handball World Championships on Sunday (31 January).

Before 2019 Denmark had never won this tournament, now in 2021 they are back-to-back world champs and defending Olympic champions too, redemption for their early exit from Euro 2020 this time last year.

It was a thrilling final in Cairo that stayed tight to the final stages, Denmark's star players making the difference in the end.

Mikkel Hansen was the hero once more, scoring 7 goals on his 219th appearance, making it over 1,100 goals for him in a Danish shirt.

And captain Niklas Landin was clutch too making 15 saves, denying and demoralising a Swedish attack time after time.

Danish TV coverage for the Egypt 2021 World Championship final started at 10 o'clock in the morning - seven and a half hours before the match against Sweden got underway, and it built to a victorious crescendo for Danish fans in the Egyptian capital.

Sweden had surprised the world by making the final, ousting France in the semis, but the top of the podium was one step too far against a dynamic Denmark.

Spain took home bronze beating France 35-29.

Walking on razors

The match stayed incredibly tight until the final fifteen minutes, Sweden matching Denmark goal for goal, blow for blow.

It was 8-8 after 19 mins played, 9-9 after 20, both Landin and Swedish inspirational goalie Andreas Palicka on four saves each and there was nothing to separate the two teams at half-time, deadlocked at 13-13.

Sweden had nine different scorers in the first half, with four players on two goals, making up for a lack of a superstar like Mikkel Hansen through a team effort.

Hampus Wanne (5) and Albin Lagergren (4) lead the Swedish scoring with Jim Gottfridsson as intense as ever, if a little overeager to shoot, scoring just two goals from 10 shots.

At one point an upset looked on the cards as the Swedes took a 19-18 lead midway through the second half, but a string of saves from Landin inspired a 5-1 Denmark run, Nikolaj Oris Nielsen stepping up and scoring five from five.

Denmark finish off Sweden

But in the end Denmark had too much depth for the Swedes, in the first half they lost Lasse Svan to a calf injury, their only out-and-out right winger in the squad, but 21-year-old Mathias Gidsel proved there are many dimensions to his talents, stepping into an unfamilliar role like he'd played there all his life.

He scored a beauty with his left hand, one of his 39 goals at his first world champs, and he and 24-year-old Magnus Saugstrup showed that Denmark's next gen is just as frightening.

Hansen and Landin made the difference in the final, Landin was awarded his IHF Player of Year award for 2019 here in Cairo, it's now 2021 and he hasn't let his performance drop at all.

Keeping turnovers to a minimum was a crucial for Denmark said their captain afterwards.

"We were disciplined and didn't have too many occasions when we threw the ball away and got punished for it," the 32-year-old goalkeeper told Danish television.

"That is what the Swedes have done throughout the tournament, and we took that from them. And then we fight as a team. Across the board, a fantastic team effort."

Coach Nikolaj Jacobsen added: "Sweden made it difficult for us and we wasted too many chances in the opening 40 minutes, but defence and a world-class goalkeeper brought it home."

But there is much to build on for an impressive Swedish side with lots of young talent coming through and the 2023 tournament to be played partly at home, set to be co-hosted by Sweden and Poland.

Meanwhile Mikkel Hansen was awarded the MVP at a Worlds for a third time.

Mikkel Hansen MVP at Egypt 2021 Handball Worlds

For Hansen it's another world champs and another tournament MVP award, picking up the honour in the final.

It's the third time he's won it after the Spain 2013 and Denmark/Germany 2019 Worlds.

Any doubts or pre-tournament questions about Hansen's motivation at these Worlds were answered comprehensively by his performances in the semi-finals and final in Cairo.

In the semi-final against Spain Hansen's 12 goals and 5 assists were essential, in the final he was once again there for his team when it counted most, conjuring goals from nothing, opening spaces and providing assists for teammates.

Hansen was top scorer in the final against Sweden with seven goals, also handing out five assists.

Much credit has to go to the Danish management of their superstar too, his time on the court was treated with the care is deserves in Egypt, resting him in the early stages of the tournament.

Hansen arrived to the business end of the tournament looking fresh and fierce, and the strategy paid golden dividends.

With their new blend of youth and experience thanks to the coaching alchemy of Nikolaj Jacobsen, they will head to Tokyo 2020 as favourites to follow their world champs double with an Olympic double.

IOC President Thomas Bach congratulated the IHF and the Egypt 2021 organisers for a successful tournament.

Spain win bronze at Egypt 2021

Spain rallied from their semi-final defeat to Denmark to claim the bronze medal against France.

It finished 35-29, Spain finishing the tournament strongly with stars like Gonzalo de Perez Vargas, Raul Entrerrios and the Dujshebaev brothers shining.

France looked tired and lacking both Nikola Karabatic for the entire tournament and his brother Luka Karabatic in the bronze medal final, they also lacked leadership.

Spain were dialled in from the throw-off with Dani Dujshebaev scoring 'Los Hispanos' first goal and a superb save from Rodrigo Corrales in the opening minutes set the tone.

Suddenly six minutes had passed and France still hadn't found the net, it was 4-0 to Spain.

But France slowly found their feet, the brilliant Ludovic Fabregas leading from the line, Dika Mem and Hugo Descat also playing their part as 'Les Bleus' they closed the gap by halftime, Spain leading 16-13 at the interval.

But Spain managed to keep France at bay, with superior shooting - 100% from the wings - and lightning breaks led by Ferran Sole, Aleix Gomez and Aitor Arino keeping the score ticking over.

A thoroughly entertaining bronze medal match ended in Spain breaking the record the highest score ever in third-place match at a world champs with 35 goals.

Write either off these teams at you peril before Tokyo 2020.


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