Holders Spain reached the main round of the European Men's Handball Championship after defeating Sweden ©Getty Images

Holders Spain edged past Sweden as the preliminary round continued on the third day of the men’s European Handball Championship, which is being co-hosted by Hungary and Slovakia.

The defending champions were the first to reach the main round after defeating Sweden 32-28 in Bratislava, Slovakia, as they sat top of Group E.

The first half saw 31 goals in 30 minutes between the two sides, but Spain always kept themselves in front and aided by eight goals from Angel Fernandez secured victory by four points.

World champions Denmark also earned a main round berth with a convincing 34-23 win over Slovenia in Debrecen, Hungary, that puts them top of Group A.

Olympic champions France comfortably beat Ukraine in Szeged, Hungary, running out 36-23 winners to secure a second successive victory, and top Group C.

The closest match of the day came in Kosice, Slovakia, with Russia surprisingly edging past co-hosts Hungary 23-22 to put themselves close to a place in the main round, and top Group F.

There was another close encounter with Croatia defeating Serbia 23-20 in Szeged, with the crucial moments coming when Croatia keeper Mate Sunjic stopped three successive shots midway through the second half.

Elsewhere, the Czech Republic defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina 27-19 in Bratislava, Montenegro edged past North Macedonia 28-24 in Debrecen and co-hosts Slovakia won their first ever men’s European Handball Championship match by defeating Lithuania 31-26 in Kosice.

Four more preliminary round matches are due to take place tomorrow in Groups B and D, after which point every team will have played two of their three scheduled matches at this stage of the competition.