Photo by Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL
January 8, 2024 – Croatia will play in the European Water Polo Championship quarterfinals, advancing as second in their group after losing to Montenegro on penalties.
The Croatia water polo team played the last round of the group stage against Montenegro in Dubrovnik tonight as part of the European Water Polo Championships. As Spain beat France 9-6 in the previous match, it was clear what Croatia needed to do against Montenegro to comfortably move ahead in the competition.
With a victory against Montenegro, even after a penalty shootout, Ivica Tucak’s team would finish first in the group and go directly to the quarterfinals. There, they would play either Georgia or Romania. In short, a victory easily opens the door to the semi-finals and the medal fight.
But that wasn’t what happened.
Instead, Croatia lost to Montenegro on penalties, which still isn’t the worst-case scenario as it secures a spot in the quarterfinals, but from second place in the group. This means facing a slightly more difficult opponent.
Tickets for tonight’s spectacle were long sold out, and if there was room at the Gruž pool for another 5,000 fans, it would still be too small. It’s been a long time since a water polo match has caused as much interest as today’s Croatia team.
The first quarter ended 4-2 for Croatia, the second 3-1 for Montenegro, and the third 4-3 for Croatia. And then drama unfolded in the final 8 minutes. Croatia and Montenegro went goal for goal and ultimately ended 11-11, which forced the game into a penalty shootout.
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