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France defeat Norway to win sixth handball world title

Thomas Samson / AFP | The victorious French team celebrate during the podium ceremony after winning the 2017 final against Norway on January 29, 2017.

France won the handball world championships for a sixth time on Sunday with a 33-26 victory in which they came from behind against Norway, who made the hosts sweat by leading for most of the first half.

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At a packed and partisan Bercy Stadium in Paris, Norway's 22-year-old goalkeeper Torbjorn Bergerud held the defending champions at bay until just before half-time.

However, after going in 18-17 in front at the interval, France then raced ahead and never looked in danger of defeat.

The turning point came in the closing minutes of the first period as France's two stars, Nikola Karabatic and Valentin Porte, grabbed quick-fire unanswered goals.

"It's more than beautiful," says France centre back Nikola Karabatic

And with the home crowd roaring them on, Karabatic and Porte went on to rack up six and five goals each as rank outsiders Norway looked on powerlessly as the side which choked in the Rio Olympic final against Denmark rose brilliantly to the occasion.

France came out for the second period with all guns blazing and quickly scored a flurry of goals forcing a five-goal lead and panicking the Norwegians into a time-out within five minutes of the restart.

As the second period reached the halfway stage, the Norwegians seemed to run out of ideas.

The runners-up, however, did have two outstanding performers in keeper Bergerud, man-of-the-match in their semi-final win over Croatia, who was again excellent, and Kent Robin Tonneson, 25, who scored five times and made a constant physical menace of himself in defence.

Slovenia claimed third place on Saturday with a 31-30 win over Croatia, overturning an 18-13 half-time deficit to make the podium for the first time at the world event.

(AFP)

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