Behind Croatia are two rounds and two victories at the Olympic Qualifying tournament in Rotterdam. Recall, Croatia won their first match against Romania at 16:6, and on Monday against the Netherlands 25:8.
Before their meeting with France on Tuesday, Croatia counted by far the most goals (41), with the best goal difference (+27), and is among the teams with the fewest goals conceded.
However, Croatia still has a long road ahead and played only their third match of eight in Rotterdam on Tuesday, this time against France. France lost to Russia in their first match and topped Germany in their second.
France took the lead first on Tuesday, scoring the opening goal of the game with 5:47 to go in the first quarter. France scored for 2:0 a minute later.
Maro Jokovic missed a 5-meter penalty moments later, keeping France in the lead. Luka Bukic scored Croatia’s first goal of the game after only 4 minutes – 2:1.
Josip Vrlic scored the equalizer with 1:39 to go in the first quarter (2:2). Loren Fatovic scored for the Croatia lead to end the first quarter at 2:3.
Loren Fatovic opened the second quarter with a goal for Croatia (3:4). Andro Buslje scored for 5:5 with 49 seconds left to end the second quarter.
Buslje opened the third quarter for 5:6 Croatia, though France came back to equalize with five minutes to go (6:6). Milos put Croatia back in the lead at 6:7. Jokovic scored for +2 with 3:42 to go in the third.
Bukic scored from 5-meters for Croatia’s biggest lead yet – 6:9, and Garcia scored for +4 (6:10) to end the third quarter.
Maro Jokovic opened the final quarter with a goal for 7:11. Fatovic scored a 5-meter penalty to bring Croatia back to +3 (9:12).
Bukic scored another penalty for Croatia with 3:26 to go in the match (10:13), which was the final score of the match.
Croatia will meet Russia (Wednesday, February 17, at 2:30 pm) and Germany (Thursday, February 18, at 8:30 pm) in the final two group stage games.
Following the group stage, the quarterfinal stage will commence on Friday, February 19, in which the four best teams from each group will meet. The pairs will be determined by their positions in the standings (A1 – B4, A2 – B3, A3 – B2, and A4 – B1).
The four winning teams will play in the semifinals on February 20. The finalists of the qualifying tournament, as well as the national team that wins the match for third place on February 21, will qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which are scheduled from July 24 to August 8, 2021.
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