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Handball: Narrow defeat for Swiss in Norway

Switzerland have begun their preparations for the World Championship playoffs with a narrow defeat in Norway. Playing without top-scorer, Marc Baumgartner, the Swiss lost 22-20.

Urs Mühlethaler's side suffered from a lack of scoring opportunities, but generally looked in good shape ahead of next week's qualifying playoff against Ukraine. In Robbie Kostadinovich the Swiss could also claim to have the best player on the night. But Kostadinovich and the rest of the team were frustrated by an excellent performance from the Norwegian goalkeeper, Scheie.

A poor start to the second half was responsible for Switzerland's undoing. While Norway put away seven goals from seven attempts, the Swiss came up with just two from eight. A number of unforced errors in defence then saw Switzerland fall 17-12 behind. A concerted effort towards the end of the match saw the team pull back to within a single point (20-19) of Norway, but the home side clung on to record their eighth victory over the Swiss in 29 attempts.

Switzerland will have their chance for revenge when the two sides meet in a second friendly on Saturday night. There then follows a final preparation match against Germany on Monday before the first real test against Ukraine.

by Mark Ledsom