Olympic Qualifiers: Croatia Defeats Russia on Penalties to Qualify for Tokyo!

Daniela Rogulj

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Croatia and Russia met in the 3rd-place match of the Olympic qualifying tournament in Rotterdam on Sunday afternoon. A win was enough for Croatia to automatically secure a spot in Tokyo, as the top three national teams from the qualifiers advance to the Olympic Games. 

Behind Croatia are seven rounds made up of five victories and two defeats at the Olympic Qualifying tournament in Rotterdam thus far. Recall, Croatia won their first match against Romania at 16:6, defeated the Netherlands 25:8, topped France 10:13lost to Russia 13:14, and beat Germany 22:8 in the final group stage match. 

Croatia thus finished the group stage with eight points, four wins, and a defeat against Russia, which finished first with nine points. 

In the quarterfinal match on Friday, Croatia was better than Georgia (15:6), but lost to Montenegro in the semifinal match on penalties on Saturday. Russia lost to Greece 10:13 in the second semifinal on Saturday. 

Croatia v. Russia 

Maro Jokovic scored the first goal of the match from a penalty for 1:0 with 6:49 to go in the first quarter.  A Milos-Vrlic combo made it 2:1 for Croatia a minute later. Vukicevic made it  3:2 with 3:54 to go. Adro Buslje scored for 4:2 with less than 3 minutes left. The first quarter ended at 4:3.

Milos scored to open the second quarter for Croatia at 5:4. Vukicevic scored for 6:6 with 3:04 to go. It was 6:7 for Russia going into halftime. 

Garcia scored for 7:7 with 6:17 left in the third quarter. Croatia finally retook the lead for 8:7 thanks to a Bukic goal with 2:55 left. Fatovic scored for 9:8 with 4:60 seconds to go in the third quarter. 

It was 9:9 with 5:20 to go in the final quarter. Buslje scored for 10:9 with 4:47 left. Vrlic scored for 11:10 with 1:20 to go. The match ended at 11:11 and went to penalties, which Croatia won 25:24!

The finalists of the qualifying tournament, as well as the national team that wins the match for third place on February 21, qualifies for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which are scheduled from July 24 to August 8, 2021. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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