Olympic champions Russia intensified their challenge for the title at the International Handball Federation Women's World Championship in Kumamoto inn Japan, today, winning their opening match to stay top of their main draw group with a perfect record.
Russia beat Romania 27-18 to top Group II – whose matches are being played at Park Dome Kumamoto - with three wins out of three.
Spain are second on five points after drawing 28-28 with Sweden.
Montenegro kept their chances of progression alive with two more rounds of matches to go in the group stages with a 30-26 win over the hosts.
Germany leapfrogged over The Netherlands to the top of Group I by beating them 25-23 at the Aqua Dome Kamamoto – the venue for their group games.
Germany now top the group with five points, with The Netherlands second on four points and Norway - who beat Denmark 22-19 in the last of today’s group matches - third on two points.
Serbia beat South Korea 36-33, although they remain one place below their beaten opponents in fifth place.
The main draw now comprises two main groups in which the top two qualify for the semi-finals due to take place on Friday (December 13).
Meanwhile France, whose defence of their title folded when they failed to reach the two main draw groups, earned a 28-17 win over Angola and will next meet Hungary – 34-26 winners over Argentina – to contest overall 13th place.
The 17th place final will be between Brazil – 32-19 winners over Slovenia - and Senegal, who beat Democratic Republic of the Congo 28-23.
Cuba beat Australia 45-25 to earn a place in the 21st place final against Kazakhstan, 29-23 winners over China.