Norway kept their hopes of reaching the semi-finals alive ©Getty Images

Defending champions Norway kept their hopes of reaching the semi-finals at the European Women’s Handball Championship alive as they beat The Netherlands 29-16 in France.

The result at the Palais des Sports Jean Weille in Nancy means the Norwegians - who suffered two shock defeats in the preliminary round which meant they couldn’t afford to drop any more points to keep their fragile hopes alive - move to within two points of the Dutch and Romania at the top of the main draw group II with one round of matches remaining.

Norway face bottom team Spain in their final group match tomorrow.

Romania, who beat Spain 27-25 today, face Hungary, currently second from bottom.

Norway must hope that they beat Spain, and Germany, currently fourth, can upset The Netherlands.

The final round of group I matches are also due to be played tomorrow at Hall XXL in Nantes with Russia, who play Sweden, already assured of a place in the semi-finals as group winners.

The hosts, currently occupying the second qualifying place, need to beat Serbia, currently second from bottom, to reach the last four.

Romania beat Spain at the European tournament in France ©Getty Images
Romania beat Spain at the European tournament in France ©Getty Images

Hosts Congo earned fifth place in the African Women’s Handball Championships with a 31-23 victory over Tunisia at the Kintele Sports Complex in Brazzaville.

Tunisia held the home team to 13-13 at half –time, but the bulk of the spectators were not to be denied in the second half.

In today’s other action at the Championships, Guinea beat Algeria 34-22 in the seventh-place match.

Tomorrow’s final will see Angola attempting to win their ninth title in the past 10 Championships, with only Tunisia, 2014 winners, being able to buck the trend.

Senegal will be the opponents in a match preceded by the meeting for the bronze medal between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon.