Serbia held off Japan to keep their qualification hopes alive ©Getty Images

Serbia kept alive their qualification hopes at the Women's World Handball Championships with a victory over Japan on a day on which the hosts Denmark suffered a first defeat of the tournament.

Serbia, who lost to Denmark yesterday, hit back with a tightly fought 27-22 victory over Japan in a key tussle for the fourth qualification spot in Group A.

The Balkan side, silver medallists at their home World Championships two years ago, led by just a single goal at halfway and were locked at 16-16 soon after at the Jyske Bank Boxen Stadium. 

Four goals without reply settled Serbian nerves, however, with right-winger Katarina Krpez Slezak a key player with six goals.

Japan now lie in fifth but do still have a chance of qualifying if they overcome Hungary in the final match and other results go their way.

Hungary secured their last 16 spot after silencing the home crowd with an impressive 29-22 win over Denmark.

Hungary inflicted the first defeat of the competition on hosts Denmark ©Getty Images
Hungary inflicted the first defeat of the competition on hosts Denmark ©Getty Images

The Danes will definitely progress, along with group winners Montenegro, who beat last placed Tunisia 37-26 today.

Poland gained a crucial 29-27 win over Angola in the most exciting match of the day in Group B at the Næstved Arena to secure their qualification, edging ahead in a tight finish after twice being five goals down in the first half.

In a European dominated group, both The Netherlands and Sweden are also through.

The Dutch overcame already eliminated Cuba 45-23, while Sweden beat China 42-21.

China and Angola are due to face off for the fourth qualification spot on Friday (December 11).

A penultimate round of matches are scheduled to place in Group C and Group D tomorrow

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