On Wednesday afternoon, Croatia and Russia met for the penultimate group stage match, which also carried a bit more importance – it was the match for first place in the group.
Behind Croatia are three rounds and three victories at the Olympic Qualifying tournament in Rotterdam. Recall, Croatia won their first match against Romania at 16:6, defeated the Netherlands 25:8, and topped France 10:13.
Russia, on the other hand, was weak in the first two games, though they claimed victory over France and drew their second against Romania. However, in their third match on Tuesday, they topped Germany by 12 goals.
Croatia v Russia Recap
While Russia was the first to score, Rino Buric equalized 40 seconds later, and a goal by Josip Vrlic made it 2:2 with 6:21 to go in the first quarter. Luke Loncar gave Croatia the lead with 5:33 left (3:2).
Fatovic scored for 4:3 with 3:05 to go in the first quarter, though missed a penalty a minute later. Fortunately, he scored for 5:3 with just over a minute to go, which is how the first quarter ended.
Croatia opened the second quarter with goals by Ante Vukicevic and Maro Jokovic for +3 (7:4). Lovre Milos made it 8:5 with 3:58 to go, and Vukicevic scored for 9:5 moments later.
Russia opened the third quarter with a goal for 9:8, though Croatia’s Bukic scored for 10:8 with 5:28 to go. Fatovic scored for 11:8 one minute later and scored his fourth goal of the game for 12:9 with just under 3 minutes to go.
Andro Buslje made it +4 (13:9), which was the last goal scored for Croatia in the third quarter which ended at 13:11.
Russia equalized in the final quarter for 13:13 with five minutes to go in the match – and with 2:25 left, Russia took the lead (13:14), which was the final score of the game.
Croatia will meet Germany (Thursday, February 18, at 8:30 pm) in the final group stage match.
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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