Europa Cup: Croatia Water Polo Tops Greece in Zagreb for Place in Semis

Daniela Rogulj

The Croatia water polo team defeated Greece 13:11 (1:2, 5:4, 4:1, 3:4) in the Europa Cup quarterfinals, which was held in Zagreb on Friday, reports HRT on April 5, 2019. 

Croatia nervously entered the duel and did not take advantage of their first five situations with an extra player in the pool, giving Greece a constant advantage during the first two quarters. However, Croatia resolved the match in the third quarter. In that period, Croatia had three consecutive goals and did not allow Greece to get above a two-goal difference until the end. Greece scored their first goal of the second half seven minutes into the half, and Croatia ended the third quarter with a goal by Fatović for an impressed lead of  11:7. Greece could no longer return.

Loren Fatović scored three goals for Croatia, with Maro Joković, Josip Vrlić, Anđelo Šetka and Javier Garcia each scoring two, and Luka Lončar and Ivan Buljubašić scoring one. Ioannis Fontoulis led Greece with three goals, and Alexandros Gounas and Angelos Vlachopoulos added two.

“We did not expect an easy win. However, when we settled the defense and led by three points, we were able to keep the advantage,” said Loren Fatović.

Fatović also announced the upcoming game against Spain.

“It will be a tough match; they broke Serbia in three quarters.”

In the semi-final on Saturday, Croatia will play against Spain (20:15), who beat Serbia on Friday in the quarters 13:12 (5:4, 3:1, 3:4, 2:3), while Hungary and Italy will play in the other semi-final at 18:30. Hungary defeated Montenegro 11:9 (4:2, 2:3, 1:1, 4:1) , while Italy was better than Russia with 11:9 (3:3, 3:2, 1:3, 4:1).

The Croatian water polo team is defending the title won last year in Rijeka. The top three teams of this tournament will compete in the World League finals, hosted by Belgrade from June 18 to 23. Despite losing to Spain, Serbia automatically qualifies in the World League finals as they are the host of the tournament. The winner of the World League finals will advance to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Of the European teams, Serbia will join the Europa Cup finalists and the winner of the third place in the tournament in Belgrade.

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