Swedes far too strong
Hosts suffer second big defeat on the trot in handball
Last Updated: 31/07/12 4:50pm
Sweden thrashed Team GB at the Copper Box
Great Britain's men slipped to a heavy 41-19 defeat against Sweden in Group A of the handball competition at the Copper Box on Tuesday.
Having only been formed in 2006, Team GB were given a brutal welcome to their first ever Olympic Games by reigning gold medallists France, who handed out a 44-15 demolition on Sunday in their first match.
And their Scandinavian opponents, who are three-time silver medallists, offered no mercy this afternoon as they inflicted more misery on Team GB, who for all their progress over the last six years, were given a frank reminder of how far they still have to go before they are competing on the world stage.
But, despite the severity of the loss, Dragan Djukic's side can take positives from Sebastian Prieto and Chris Mohr's performance and four goals from Steven Larsson, giving them something to take into Thursday's game with Argentina, which has been long-touted as a potential match to win.
The gulf in class did not seem immediately obvious as the host nation held their own for the opening exchanges and were level at 2-2 after three minutes, with Mark Hawkins scoring his first goal at the Olympics.
But then Sweden imposed themselves on the game and in combination with missed chances and sloppy passing from Team GB, they rattled off six successive goals to earn an 8-2 advantage after eight minutes.
Sebastian Prieto finally broke that spell with a fine move from a free throw, which gave the partisan home crowd reason to cheer, but that could not be used as a catalyst for a comeback as four consecutive goals gave the Scandinavians a 12-3 lead, which even at the quarter-way point of the match was impregnable.
While Sweden kept a sizeable lead in tact thanks to a percentage conversion rate in the 90s and the ability to construct fast breaks, Team GB did seem to improve and incisive attacking moves saw both Chris McDermott and Prieto bag nice goals.
Part of the host nation's problem was that star man Larsson, who represented Sweden at youth level, had failed to get into the game, but he announced his arrival against the country where he grew up with a fine lob finish.
But that and goals from Mohr were just fleeting glimpses of promise for Team GB and Sweden finished the first half having scored an incredible 24 of their 26 efforts on goal, which would have been enough to blow better teams than Team GB away, and gave them a 14-goal half-time lead.
The opening few minutes of the second half offered no respite for a beleaguered host nation, with Staffan Olsson's side throwing in six unanswered goals and at last missing several other opportunities.
A fast break from Seb Edgar woke the Copper Box up from their slumber, but the cheers were all too rare as Sweden held a 21-goal lead at the halfway point of the second half.
But the home crowd were given reward for their support soon after when Jesper Parker made two fine saves and then their side scored back-to-back goals for the first time in the game.
Sweden saw it out with ease, though, to record a 22-goal win, with right-wing Niclas Ekberg having an afternoon to remember by netting 13 goals, the best match haul of the tournament so far.
The defeat leaves GB rooted to the bottom of Group A with no points and an ugly goal difference, while Sweden sit top, with two wins from two.