Croatia, Denmark and Portugal all made it five wins out of five as preliminary-round action concluded today at the Men's Youth World Handball Championship in Skopje.
Veron Nacinovic struck in the 59th minute to give Croatia what proved to be an unassailable lead against Spain, the 2017 silver medallists, in a 26-22 win at the Jane Sandanski Arena,
It meant they finished top of Group A ahead of Norway, who edged above Spain by virtue of having a superior goal difference after beating Slovenia 34-25.
Today’s one other match in Group A saw Saudi Arabia defeat Chile 29-25 to rank fifth and condemn their opponents to last place.
Slovenia completed out the round-of-16 qualifiers in fourth position.
In Group C, 2017 bronze medallists Denmark capped off a perfect campaign by overcoming Bahrain 36-29 at the Boris Trajkovski Sports Center.
Japan claimed a fourth win in a row to secure second place, beating hosts North Macedonia 31-22, while Argentina came third thanks to a 30-22 victory over Nigeria.
North Macedonia took the fourth and final qualification spot for the round of 16.
Portugal, meanwhile, ended on an unblemished record in Group D after downing Brazil 36-29 at the Boris Trajkovski Sports Center.
Germany and Iceland finished second and third, respectively, after the former defeated the latter 26-22 and Tunisia beat today’s opponents Serbia to fourth place with a 25-23 triumph.
Back over at the Jane Sandanski Arena, Egypt made it four wins from five games to finish at the summit of the Group B standings.
They overcame Hungary 31-24 to move onto eight points, one more than both Sweden and holders France following their 32-32 draw.
Despite their loss today, Hungary remained in the fourth qualification spot.
Chinese Taipei defeated Canada 33-17 in the battle to avoid finishing last.
Following a rest day tomorrow, the round-of-16 matches are due to take place on Wednesday (August 14).
The first two contests pit Egypt against Slovenia and Argentina against Germany before Croatia face Hungary and Iceland meet Japan.
France then go up against Norway prior to games between Denmark and Tunisia, Spain and Sweden, and Portugal and North Macedonia.
The event is scheduled to conclude on Sunday (August 18).