Second-half surge clinches win

The men’s national handball team unleashed a spectacular second-half revival to clinch a narrow 20-19 victory against two-time world champion France at the World Championships in Tunisia yesterday. Greece, which had lost its opening game against Denmark, 27-23, on Sunday, now stands a real chance of securing a place among Group A’s top three for qualification in the next round, reserved for 12 sides. The leading three sides from four groups advance. Also in Group A yesterday, Tunisia pleased the home crowd by thrashing Canada 42-20 to remain undefeated at the group’s top. The host nation had easily defeated Angola, 39-23, in its opening game. Group A’s other scheduled game yesterday, Angola versus Denmark, was due to start later last night. Prior to that game, front runner Tunisia was followed by Denmark – with a game less – France and Greece with a win apiece. Greece, facing a steep five-goal deficit against France early in the second half, fought back with three goals in as many minutes to trail by just one goal six minutes before time. Sensing danger, France coach Claude Onesta was forced to re-field key players that had been put on the bench to relax for the game’s remainder. Despite the recharge, Greece, rated as the encounter’s underdog by official bookmakers with 12-1 odds of a victory, proved the calmer side in the game’s tit-for-tat finale. With both sides tied at 19-19 in the match’s tense final moments, Greece’s Alexandros Alvanos produced the winning goal, his fourth for the game, just four seconds before time. France had equalized just seconds earlier. Two key players, both with slight injuries, skipper Nikos Grammatikos and Savvas Karypidis, were both left out of Greece’s 14-man squad in anticipation of the tournament’s upcoming games. Greece, drawn in the competition’s Group A, meets Angola in its next match today. It then meets Canada on Friday and host Tunisia on Saturday.

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