Defending champions Brazil were held to a draw by South Korea ©Getty Images

Brazil and Serbia, the defending champions and runners-up last time, were both held to draws today as the Women's Handball World Championships opened in Denmark.

Brazil, who beat their European opponents 22-20 in the final two years ago in Belgrade, were held 24-24 by gallant South Korean opposition today, who are aiming to improve upon their sole World Championship medal, a bronze in 2003.

It could have been so much worse for the Brazilians in Kolding, however, as they required a goal from a seemingly impossible angle on the right wing to snatch a last minute draw.

Two minutes earlier they had trailed 24-22 and the Koreans had wasted an open opportunity to move even further ahead with only four Brazilian players on the pitch in the Group C encounter.

Serbia, meanwhile, also came from behind to draw with arch-rivals and neighbours Montenegro, the 2012 European champions, in their Group A match. 

Montenegro had led 16-14 at the halfway point after Serbia's Jovana Stoiljkovic was shown a direct red card. 

Montenegro also missed chances to extend their advantage before their rivals, with each seeking the first world title for the Balkans since Yugoslavia won in 1973, hit back.

Home supporters cheer Denmark to victory over Japan ©Twitter/Denmark 2015
Home supporters cheer Denmark to victory over Japan ©Twitter/Denmark 2015

The Championships were declared open by International Olympic Committee member Crown Prince Frederik, with matches taking place across the four cities of Herning, Næstved, Kolding and Frederikshavn.

Hungary were too strong for Tunisia in the other match in Group A, taking a 16-5 half-time lead thanks to some superb goalkeeping from Eva Kiss before powering clear for a 39-20 victory.

Also in Group A, hosts Denmark beat Japan 30-21 in the final clash of the evening.

Poland enjoyed a strong 27-22 victory over Cuba in Group B, while The Netherlands cruised past China 42-21 and Sweden beat Angola 37-23.

In Group C, Argentina overcame tenacious Congolese opposition, leading by just one at halfway before eventually winning 23-15.

France have emerged as the principal rivals for the two South American sides, beating Germany by a more comfortable 30-20 margin than many expected. 

Russia, world champions in 2005, 2007 and 2009, beat 2011 champions Norway in a captivating Group D contest, triumphing in a top-class tussle after trailing 14-12 at half time.

Spain were far more comfortable winners, 31-10 over Kazakhstan, while Romania thrashed World Championship debutants Puerto Rico, 47-14.

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