The European Water Polo Championships continued in Split on Wednesday. The Croatia women’s team secured a historic quarterfinal on Tuesday, and after their opening win against Malta, the Croatia men’s team faced France in the second round of Group B.
“It is important that we be good. France is not as strong as, say, Hungary, but they showed quality. They drew against Greece, which is enough of a warning,” said Croatia coach Ivica Tucak.
Beating France definitely separates Croatia from the worst or third place in the group – and is even better going into their final Group B match against Greece on Friday. Greece and France drew 12:12 on Monday.
Croatia won the swim-off and the first attack of the match. France hit the crossbar in their first attack. Bukic shot at the keeper in Croatia’s next attack. Luka Bukic scored Croatia’s first goal with 5:39 on the clock for 1:0! France equalized for 1:1 with 5:20 to go. The next two minutes went without goals. France scored with 2:08 left in the quarter for 1:2. Kragic nailed the net with 1:30 left for 2:2! France went back ahead for 2:3 with 1:09 left. The first quarter ended 2:3 for France.
France won the swim-off this time and the first attack but could not find the goal. Lazic’s shot skipped over Croatia’s goal in their first attack of the quarter. France was awarded a penalty with 6:53 to go. Croussillat scored or 2:4. Loren Fatvovic made it 3:4 with 6:11 on the clock. No goals for the next two minutes and a few questionable missed calls by the ref resulted in a timeout for France with just over 4 minutes to go. Bijac made two super saves in France’s next attack. Kragic hit the post in the next play. Bijac kept a clean net in the next France attack, but Croatia was unable to score either. With less than a minute to go, it was still 3:4 for France. Andrija Basic equalized with 32 seconds on the clock. The second quarter ended at 4:4.
Croatia won the swim-off to start the third quarter. Croatia’s first attack was saved by the France keeper, though France was unlucky in their first attack as well. Kharkov put Croatia back in the lead at 5:4 with 5:42 to go in the quarter. France hit the post and then won a penalty. Lazic was also given his third exclusion. Bijac brilliantly saved the penalty to keep Croatia ahead! And in the next attack – Zuvela scored for 6:4 with just over 4 minutes on the clock. France scored for 6:5 with 2:51 left. Basic nailed the net with 2:23 left for 7:5! And another rocket by Zuvela for 8:5! Croatia had the last attack of the 3rd quarter, which Kragic scored for 9:5 going into the final quarter.
Croatia won the swim-off of the final quarter, and Bukic scored immediately in the first attack for 10:5. A quick counter for Croatia aw Kharkov one-on-one with the France keeper to score for 11:5! Croatia called a time-out with 5:48 left in the match. Bukic scored for 12:5 with 5:28 left. Bijac continued to keep Croatia’s net clean with a save in France’s next attack. France scored for 12:6 with 3:53 left. Rino Buric scored for 13:6 with 3:27 left! Croatia called a time-out with 1:26 left in the game. France scored for 13:7 with 37 seconds to go in the game. And Croatia won it 13:7!
Croatia and Greece play in the final Group B on Friday at 20:30.
To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.