Hosts Qatar into world quarter-finals

Hosts Qatar edged through to the quarter finals of the World Handball championships with a narrow and bad-tempered 29-27 over Austria on Sunday.

It is the first time Qatar has ever reached the quarter finals of a handball world championship.

The win sparked jubilant scenes among a packed and excited crowd at the Lusail sports stadium as the host side kept alive the dream of a home victory at the championships.

But the defeated Austrians were clearly aggrieved by some of the refereeing decisions and some of their players mockingly applauded officials at the end of the game.

The Qataris, in one of their least impressive performances so far, overturned a 14-13 deficit at the break to clinch a last eight spot against either Germany or Egypt, who play on Monday.

That they did scrape through was due in part to some fine individual performances.

Cuban-born Rafael Capote again won the man of the match award for his seven goals. Zarko Markovic scored eight and Bertrand Roine five for the home side.

After the game, Qatar’s coach Valero Rivera, said the result made him “very happy for all the people of Qatar”.

Asked which team he would prefer to face in the last eight, Germany or Egypt, Rivera said he had no preference but would concentrate on his own team.

Meanwhile, world champions Spain eased through to the quarter finals with a comprehensive 28-20 victory over Tunisia.

In an ominous sign for the rest of the sides, Spain had virtually ended the game as a contest within the first 22 minutes, taking a 14-5 lead.

Their attack was led by Cristian Ugalde who scored with each of his five shots in the first half. The second half was a mere formality for the world champions.

When the Tunisians managed to get a sight of the Spanish goal, they were thwarted by a string of world class saves from Gonzalo Perez de Vargas, who was in superb form, or the woodwork which they struck on five occasions in the second half alone.

De Vargas took the man of the match award, despite Spain’s dominance.

Tunisia’s large and noisy following deserved more but the gulf in class was too much for their side.

Both games were played at Lusail, and in a neat reversal some Qatari fans stayed on to cheer for Spain.

It has been previously reported that Qatar has flown out some 60 Spanish fans to back the host side.

Spain will play Iceland or Denmark in the next round.

Also on Sunday, Slovenia beat Macedonia 30-28 and will play favourites France or Argentina in the quarter finals.

Croatia, unbeaten so far in the tournament, survived an almighty scare, as they narrowly squeezed through against Brazil 26-25. The Croatians had been trailing 15-13 at half time.

The Croats face Poland or Sweden in the next round.


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