Denmark breeze through to the semi-finals and set a new amazing record
25 Jan. 2023
Denmark qualified for the semi-final of the IHF Men's World Championship for the seventh time in the last nine editions of the competition with a commanding display against Hungary (40:23), as they also set a new record in the world handball flagship competition, with a 26-match unbeaten streak dating back to 2019.
Denmark vs Hungary 40:23 (21:12)
Hungary were the last team to have beaten Denmark at the IHF Men's World Championship back in France 2017, a loss that the Scandinavian side used as a springboard for an unprecedented streak in the history of the world handball flagship competition. Since then, Denmark have been on a 25-match unbeaten run, with 23 wins and two draws, which yielded two trophies in the competition.
However, the Scandinavian side were on the verge of creating history and establishing the longest-ever unbeaten streak in the history of the competition – 26 matches in a row – were they to beat Hungary in the first quarter-final at Poland/Sweden 2023 in the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm, beating the previous streak set by France.
Truly motivated and with an attack firing from all cylinders, Denmark decided to leave nothing to chance even in the first half, taking a 6:3 lead after 10 minutes, with all of Hungary's goals being scored by the most experienced player in the squad, centre back Máté Lékai, who was also the top scorer against Denmark six years ago when Hungary eliminated the Scandinavian side in the Round of 16.
In his 250th match for Denmark, the fourth highest number of caps for any player in the team's history, left back Mikkel Hansen provided the opening goal with a cheeky spin shot that gave Roland Mikler no chance. But where Hansen started, Denmark's two other excellent backs Simon Pytlick and Mathias Gidsel followed.
The two combined for 10 other goals, as Hungary were forced to take two timeouts to weather the storm. But not even those breaks could impact the score line at the break, with the reigning world champions creating a commanding nine-goal lead, 21:12, as their attack was nothing short of amazing, delivering 84% efficiency in the first 30 minutes.
Goalkeeper Niklas Landin also played a huge part in Denmark's success, saving 11 shots for a 48% saving efficiency, including four amazing one-on-one stops, which really put a dent in Hungary's challenge for a comeback. In fact, there was not even a comeback attempt as Denmark were simply outplaying Hungary at an impressive pace.
By the 40th minute, Denmark were on track for one of the biggest wins in the history of the quarter-finals of the IHF Men's World Championship, with a 17-goal difference, 32:15, set in 1997 by Russia when they faced the Republic of Korea.
With the gap ballooning to 14 goals, coach Nikolaj Jacobsen started to replace his main players and use the others that had played less throughout the tournament, with only Rasmus Lauge Schmidt not featuring, as he was ushered back into the 16-player roster for the match after an injury.
However, Denmark were outplaying their opponents and a dominant Mathias Gidsel was named the "hummel Player of the match", the first player to score 50 goals at Poland/Sweden 2023, with nine goals in the match.
While Hungary attempted to close the gap and exit with their heads held high, Denmark still pushed on and on, eventually tying the highest win in the history of the quarter-finals at the IHF Men's World Championship, 40:23.
The reigning champions have now set a new record of 26 unbeaten matches in a row – 24 wins and two draws – another superb milestone for their superb golden generation, which has yielded plenty of medals in all major tournaments.
hummel Player of the Match: Mathias Gidsel (Denmark)