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Date: 7/29/2017

Denmark claimed the first ticket to the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship final after a tough 60 minutes against France, thanks to the use of a tactical seven-on-six attacking game and a strong performance from goalkeeper Simon Gade. 

The 2015 Junior World Championship runners-up thereby knocked the defending champions out of the race for the title, leaving France to contest the bronze medal against the losing team in the second semi-final between Germany and Spain. 

Semi-final: France vs Denmark 34:37 (16:17)

Despite France right wing Yanis Lenne being the first to score, it was Denmark that took the edge through the opening minutes thanks to the use of seven-on-six in attack that caused significant trouble for their opponent’s trademark 6-0. As Denmark found gaps in the defensive line, France were lucky to be able to rely on goalkeeper Julien Meyer’s saves, which kept the Scandinavian team at bay. 

After 10 minutes the score was level at 5:5, and Denmark had switched to 3-2-1 defence in an attempt to control France’s back court, but the game remained one-for-one despite their numerical advantage in attack. Midway through the half Denmark held a narrow edge at 8:7, before Lasse Moeller them two in front on a penalty goal. 

When Denmark hit a three-goal lead at 13:10 in the 21st minute, France coach Johann Delattre called his first time-out. Simon Gade made a save against France line player Hugo Kamtchop Baril on a clear chance, and the Scandinavian side used it to pull ahead to a four-goal advantage in the next attack. With the score at 10:14, France coach Delattre changed his defensive tactics, bringing in goalkeeper Mehdi Harbaoui and marking out right back Moeller. 

Minutes later France changed their defence again, this time to 5-1 with left wing Adama Keita in front. Just as France have done so many times before at Algeria 2017, they finished the first half stronger than their opponents, and it was Keita who brought them within one inside the last two minutes (15:16). The difference remained at one as the half-time whistle sounded, and five minutes into the second period France levelled the score. 

With 16 minutes left France claimed the upper hand at 26:25 for the first time since the opening quarter of the game courtesy of a long-range shot from Lenne into Denmark’s empty goal. Melvyn Richardson received a two-minute suspension for an incorrect substitution, and though France managed to keep Denmark at bay for some time despite having only five defenders against seven attackers, the Scandinavian side soon reclaimed a one-goal lead. 

As the clock ticked into the final 10 minutes the difference stood at two in Denmark’s favour (29:27). Thanks to some great saves from keeper Simone Gade the Scandinavian team kept the same advantage at 33:31 at the 55-minute mark – but France continued to push. With the help of Meyer’s saves, they came back to equalise with three minutes left (33:33). 

With 90 seconds left Denmark reclaimed a one-goal lead, and France’s next shot went straight to Gade, giving the Scandinavian side possession as the last 60 seconds began. Denmark sealed their victory with another two goals, from line player Magnus Saugstrup Jensen then a long-range shot from Gade into the empty goal just as the buzzer sounded.