Defending Olympic champion France turned the Basketball Arena into a Parisian party on Friday as it overawed Croatia for a place in the handball final against three-time runner-up Sweden, desperate for an elusive gold.

France’s play did not always match the sparkling performance of its many supporters as it handed twice champion Croatia its first defeat of the tournament, winning 25-22 in pedestrian fashion after a superb start.

Earlier Sweden produced a more workmanlike display based on its stout defence to edge Hungary 27-26.

The results:

Men: Semifinals: Sweden 27 bt Hungary 26; France 25 bt Croatia 22.

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