The third day of the 35th LEN European Water Polo Championships at Spaladium Arena in Split was held on Monday, which finally featured the men’s competition and, of course, Croatia’s Barracudas!
After the Croatia women’s water polo team defeated Germany on Sunday, the men took the stage after the official opening ceremony.
The opening ceremony also welcomed the highest state, county, and city officials, including Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, Split Mayor Ivica Puljak, and Split-Dalmatia County Prefect Blazenko Boban.
“We are expecting a lot of guests, from the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, ministers, representatives of the city government, heads of the boards of many Croatian companies and our partners, and most importantly, the people of Split and everyone who loves water polo to come and support both our national teams. I am convinced of a good game against Malta in a spectacular atmosphere, as well as I hope that we will reach the fight for a medal with the intimate desire to reach the final,” said Perica Bukić, vice-president and executive director of the Croatian Water Polo Federation, before the opening ceremony.
The opening ceremony also featured Croatian music greats Zorica Kondža, Goran Karan, Tedi Spalato, Lidija Bačić, and Ante Gelo, among others.
Croatia and Malta met in the 1st round of Group B from 21:00.
“We are looking forward to the start of the European Championship, which is the end of long preparations, a tiring summer in which we also played the World Championships. We have done everything necessary, the national team is ready for the start of the competition, and we are starting to achieve the biggest and best result possible,” said coach Ivica Tucak before the match.
Kharkov won the sprint for Croatia to kick off the first quarter, but the attack went without a goal. Malta’s first attack was also unlucky. Loren Fatovic scored Croatia first goal with 6:53 on the clock for 1:0. Malta’s next attack also went without a goal. Krzic made it 2:0 for Croatia with 6:19 left. A brilliant save by Bijac kept Croatia ahead with 3 minutes to go. The first quarter ended 2:0 for Croatia.
Malta won the swim-off for the first attack of the 2nd quarter but failed to score. Croatia did not score in their first or second attack. Malta hit the post with just over 5 minutes to go but still couldn’t find the back of the net. Ivan Krapic made it 3:0 for Croatia with 5:15 left. Zuvela intercepted Malta’s next attack though Kragic’s shot was blocked. Croatia’s defense blocked Malta’s next attack, and Rino Buric had a quick counter. Buric passed to Kragic, who scored for 4:0. Buric found the back of the net with less than 2 minutes to go until the half – 5:0 Croatia! Malta’s first goal of the match came with 1:09 left. A brilliant interception and one-on-one for Loren Fatovic was ultimately called for a Malta ball, and the match went into halftime 5:1 Croatia.
Malta won the swim-off of the third quarter and scored for 5:2 in their first attack. Croatia was unable to score in the next play. Kharkov’s shot hit the post, which found Fatovic, who scored for 6:2 Croatia with just over 6 minutes on the clock. Luka Bukic made it 7:2 for Croatia in the next play. Kragic scored a rocket for 8:2 with 5:10 left. Kragic scored for 9:2 with less than 4 minutes to go in the quarter. Rino Buric scored for 10:2 Croatian with 2 minutes left. Fatovic scored for 11:2 with just over a minute to go before the final quarter. Fatovic scored for 12:2 with 44 seconds on the clock. Malta scored for 12:3 to end the third quarter.
Zuvela won the swim-off for Croatia’s first attack of the final quarter. Zuvela scored for 13:3. A penalty was called for Croatia with 6:05 on the clock, which Kragic scored for 14:3. Zuvela impressed with a backhanded move around the Malta defender and lob over the keeper for 15:3 with 5:34 left in the match. Fatovic scored for 16:3 with just over 3 minutes in the match. And it was 16:4 after a Malta goal seconds later. A brilliant play in the Croatia attack found Buric alone in front of the Malta goal to score for 17:4. Malta found the back of the net again with 2 minutes to go in the match – 17:5. Krapic scored with 39 seconds left for 18:5. And Kharkov scored the final goal of the match for 19:5 Croatia!
Croatia plays France next on Wednesday at 20:30.
Upcoming schedule of concerts at Spaladium Arena’s Jana – Water City
Tuesday, August 30
21:00 – Matija Cvek
Wednesday, August 31
22:00 – Mladen Grdović
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