By Tom Pilcher
LONDON (Reuters) - Holders France beat Croatia 25-22 in the second Olympic semi-final on Friday to set up a gold medal match against Sweden where they could become the first men's team to retain their Games title.
France will play three-times runners-up Sweden on Sunday while twice winners Croatia, who were seeking to become the first male side to win three Olympic golds, will battle Hungary for bronze.
World champions France handed Croatia their first defeat at the London Games thanks largely to a superb performance from their decorated goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer, the former world player of the year frustrating the confident Balkan side.
Omeyer saved eight of Croatia's first nine shots on target as France took a 5-1 lead after 11 minutes, and although their opponents came back and stayed within sight it was too much of a mountain to climb.
France shared the goals around and once again proved too much for Croatia to handle in an Olympic semi-final, the pair having met four years ago in Beijing with the same outcome.
That was revenge for Croatia's last-four win in 1996 at Atlanta though in more recent times France have had the edge, beating their rivals for the 2009 world championship and in the 2010 European championship final.
Croatia will now be out to deny Hungary a first Olympic men's handball medal and add to their tally of two golds in three previous Games appearances.
(Edited by Michael Holden)