The Croatia men’s water polo team met Georgia in the quarter-final match of the European Championships in Split on Tuesday.
The winner of the match will play in the semi-finals against Italy, who beat France 16:8 in the quarter-finals.
Croatia did not reach the quarterfinals easily. They lost the first half to both France and Greece in the group stage and failed to score against Greece in the first 16 minutes of the match. However, a draw against Greece was enough for Croatia to win first place in their group with seven points.
Georgia beat the Netherlands 12:8 (2:3, 5:1, 2:2, 3:2) in the round of 16. Croatia last played Georgia a little over two months ago at the World Championships in Budapest and won 13:7 in the round of 16.
Croatia won the swim-off and the first attack of the match but lost the ball to Georgia. Georgia hit the post in their first attack. Croatia won a penalty with 6:09 on the clock. Kharkov scored for 1:0 Croatia. Bijac saved Georgia’s next attack. Croatia’s next attack resulted in another penalty which Kharkov scored again for 2:0! Bijac kept the goal clean in Georgia’s next attack, and Fatovic scored for 3:0 with 3:39 left. Zuvela made it 4:0 with 6 seconds on the clock, which is how the first quarter ended.
Croatia won the swim-off but didn’t score in their first attack. Georgia scored for 4:1 with 7:09 on the clock. Georgia hit the post in the next attack but scored for 4:2 with 5:22 to go. Buric scored for 5:2 with 4:48 left. Bijac was solid in goal to deny Georgia’s next attacks. Kharkov made it 6:2 with 1:19 to go. Georgia won a penalty with 52 seconds but hit the post. Croatia hit the post in their next attack.
Croatia won the swim-off again and the first attack of the 3rd quarter. Basic nailed the back of the net for 7:2 with 7:30 on the clock. Georgia answered back in their next attack for 7:3 with 7:02 to go. Bukic made it 8:3 for Croatia with 6:32 left. Fatovic scored a penalty for 9:3 with 5:49 left. Bijac saved a Georgia penalty with 5:20 on the clock. Nothing was getting past Bijac in this match. Fatovic had a one-on-one and faked the Georgia keeper for 10:3 with 3 minutes left! Bukic made it 11:3 with 1:29 to go in the third quarter – and 12:3 with 42 seconds left.
Popadic replaced Bijac in goal for the final quarter. Georgia got the swim-off in the final quarter of the match. Georgia made it 12:4 with 7:17 to go in the match. Buric answered back with a goal for 13:4. Croatia called a time-out with 4:21 to go. Bukic scored for 14:4 with 2:24 left. Georgia scored for 14:5 with 1:45 on the clock. Kragic made it 15:5 with 42 seconds left. Croatia had the final attack and ran out the clock. The match ended 15:5!
Croatia and Italy will meet in the semi-final on Thursday in Split!
To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.