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Date: 8/12/2017

Iceland and Germany left the rest of the teams in Group B in doubt who rules the roost as they both despatched their rivals today to leave them facing each other on the final matchday to fight for the final group top spot.

Japan beat Chile in the evening game to move up to four points which means an eighth-final spot will be guaranteed if they draw, or win, their final group game against Algeria on the final group matchday on Monday, regardless of other results.

Iceland vs Algeria 37:27 (15:13)

Viktor Hallgrimsson has a birth date with the year 2000 in it. While this may make some people feel old, as the youngest player in the 16-man Iceland squad here at Georgia 2017 – and at Algeria 2017 in the IHF Men’s Junior World Championship where he played just under two hours – he has fitted straight in to a side who have now amassed four wins out of four thanks to this 10-goal victory.

Hallgrimsson played nearly all the match and played his part in this win, ending with a 41.3% save rate against the north African side as Iceland coach Bjarni Fritzson rotated his whole squad in a match which was competitive until half-time.

“We’re really happy having a full house,” said Fritzson about his side accumulating 100% of the points on offer so far. “We tried to rotate the team as we want to stay as long as we can in this championship and we need to use all the team.

“I was not happy with the first half,” he continued. “I was happy with the first 15 minutes of the second half and the last minutes when the game was practically over.

“Early on we were not focussed on our job and not working as we could in defence, we were not 100% in the game.”

In that first-half which Fritzson was not the biggest fan of, another special goalkeeping performance took place as the Algerian number one Oussama Sekai made it his personal mission to stop the Icelandic shooters.

Sekai, with his left hand and wrist more heavily bandaged than it was in their opening game against Georgia, made four saves in the first 11 minutes as Iceland could not find their shooting range. Iceland were only 5:4 up at this point and Algeria were close to drawing even, which they did when Malek Abdel Fodil stole the ball from a passive Icelandic backcourt to stride down to their goal and smash home.

The 6:6 score prompted a Fritzson time-out for Iceland which saw his side respond as he hoped, going on a 3:0 run to go ahead again (9:6) in the 17th, a lead which would not be caught again in the match.

At 11:8 down, Algerian coach Abdelkrim Bechkour called his own time out but it did not cause the same uplift as the Iceland one had – even when Teitur Einarsson missed a seven metre, Algeria could not capitalise, missing their own one after Youcef El Houti tried to be too clever rather than guiding the ball home. That could have made it 13:12 and just one goal between the teams, but they eventually went in at the break two apart with Iceland holding the initiative (15:13).

As coach Fritzson said later, Iceland’s first 15 minutes of the second half were where they killed off the game, prompting a time out from Algeria after just four minutes (19:13).

An impressive piece of skill from Abdel Malik Fodil showed brief signs of recovery, but the a 7:1 run just before the middle of the half took Iceland 12 goals clear (30:18) and then moments later the team started their rotation, beginning with Einarsson going to the bench to warm applause from his teammates and to watch the game play out to an Iceland win.

Best Players of the Match: Orri Freyr THORKELSSON (ISL), Abdel Malek FODIL (ALG)

Georgia vs Germany 25:41 (8:21)

After Georgia’s coach Bekari Orjonikidze admitted that his team may have one eye already on the potential winner-takes-all final group match against Japan on Monday, fans inside the Olympic Palace could have been forgiven for thinking that this would be one-sided. 

It was during the first half, but after Jochen Beppler took the decision to rest most of his first-choice starters in the second half the game became more even as Georgia kept the battle going until the end, losing the second period 20:17.

“You’re too scared and nervous – remember your tactics and the Algeria match,” said Orjonikidze to his players during a Georgian time-out taken with 21 minutes on the clock. The pause had come in the middle of a 7:0 goal run from Germany which meant a 21:8 half-time result looked like the end of the match as a contest.

But it was a game of two halves as up until the 50th minute, Georgia had outscored the meanest defence (59 goals in three games) in the whole competition at the start of the day’s play, 14:12.

That will give confidence to the host side, despite an 8:3 run from Germany to round the game off, as they play Chile in their final game with an eighth-final spot at stake.

Best Players of the Match: Khazein RUSTAMOV (GEO), Max STAAR (GER)

Japan vs Chile 35:27 (17:15)

Japan put one foot in the eighth-finals as they defeated Chile who left the court despondently, knowing they have one foot in the President's Cup.

The Pan-American side are in bottom spot in the group, without any points and face Georgia in their final game. Georgia and Algeria are the only two teams who can be caught on points by Chile and all three teams go into the final matchday on Monday with calculators.

Other than a couple of 3:0 runs from the Japanese, which ultimately saw them go into the break two goals up (17:15), the first half saw the teams exchange goals. although Japan always had the upper hand, going up by four (11:7) in the 18th minute as Adam Yuki Baig and Takumi Sueoka defended and attacked effectively for the Asians.

At 12:9, Chile called a time out which stopped the slide towards the break and after a rousing team talk from their coach Claudia Lira at the break, with possession at the beginning of the second half they sprinted out of the traps, like greyhounds, scoring after just eight seconds as Aaron Codina smashed home.

However, a 4:0 run with just under 40 minutes on the clock (23:18) from the Japanese put Chile away for good, and the Japanese could concentrate on rotating their squad and staying injury free.

Yodai Hotta in the Japanese goal ended with a 42.9% save ratio as he, and his side can now start looking towards the eighth-finals and possibly even further, as their opponents in the next stage could be any one of the teams in Group A given both groups' unknown positions currently.

Best Players of the Match: Rennosuke TOKUDA (JPN), Francisco AVENDANO (CHI)