Atlanta champs golden again

Updated: August 29, 2004, 12:51 PM ET

ATHENS, Greece -- World champion Croatia won the men's handball gold medal Sunday, finishing an undefeated run through the Olympic tournament with a 26-24 victory over Germany.

The Croatians won in Atlanta in 1996, but failed to qualify for the Sydney Games four years ago. They won the world championship in Portugal last year.

Germany played without Pascal Hens, one of its most experienced players, who was injured during a game against France last Sunday.

Germany lead 12-11 at halftime, and the score stayed close until midway through the second half, when Croatia tied it at 17 and then pulled ahead.

Down 23-21, Germany turned the ball over on a bad pass, and Niska Kaleb scored his third goal, getting the ball past goalkeeper Henning Fritz into the lower left corner of the net.

Croatia then tightened its defense and got goals by Blazenko Lackovic and Mirza Dzomba that clinched it.

Dzomba, who was also a member of Croatia's gold medal-winning team in Atlanta, led the way by scoring nine goals. Croatian goalkeeper Vlado Sola -- whose dyed red hair matches his team's colors -- made 11 saves.

Germany started the tournament with impressive victories against Greece, Egypt and Brazil, and got into the semifinal after winning a penalty shootout over Spain 32-30. The Germans then beat defending Olympic champion Russia 21-15 to reach the final.

Russia beat Hungary 28-26 to claim the bronze Saturday.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ALSO SEE

MORE OLYMPICS HEADLINES

MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM