Croatia started with Ivana Kapitanović in goal, Paula Posavec and Ana Turk on the wings, Ana Debelić as the pivot, and Ćamila Mičijević, Valentina Blažević and Dejana Milosavljević in the outside positions. Stela Posavec entered the defense instead of Valentina Blažević.
Croatia opened the match well, with Ivana Kapitanović especially good in goal. She amassed four saves in the first six minutes! Croatia took the 4:1 lead, and the Czech Republic scored their only goal from seven meters. Unfortunately, Stela Posavec was injured in those moments, so the coach had to switch up the defense. The main Czech threat, Marketa Jerabkova, was left without a shot in the first ten minutes, so the visiting coach quickly pulled her to the bench. But after one technical error, one counter, and a great save, the Czech Republic quickly returned to the match.
After only ten minutes of play, the Czech Republic changed its defense. They went from 6-0 to 5-1. Nevertheless, Croatia managed to keep its lead. After the first quarter, Croatia was up by three goals – 7:4. Unfortunately, the Czech Republic again made good use of the new exclusion and again came to just one goal behind. In the 21st minute, they equalized and then took the first lead in the game at 9:10. The Czech Republic then went on to score three goals.
Croatia called a time-out. Four minutes before the half, the Czech Republic went up by two – 10:12. A minute and a half before halftime, Croatia was even, and the Czech Republic took the lead at halftime for 13:14.
The second half did not start according to plan. In less than three minutes, Croatia missed three clear chances, and the Czech Republic increased its advantage to two – 14:16. Slight nervousness was more obvious both on the court and in the stands.
But Croatia did not give up. In the 41st minute, they equalized at 18:18 and a minute later took the lead – 19:18. A full eight minutes after, it was goal for goal. The Czech Republic was the first to burst under pressure. In the 48th minute, Croatia went up by three – 24:21.
At one point, the Czech Republic again threatened to come back, but Croatia found new strength and went up by three in the 52nd minute for 27:24, repeated it in the 54th at 28:25, and once again in the 56th for 29:26.
Two minutes before the end, Croatia was again up by three goals and confirmed the victory in the final minute!
With this victory, Croatia has thus qualified for their 12th European Championship in history. The “Queens of Shock” will defend the bronze in Slovenia, Montenegro, and North. Macedonia from November 4 to 20 this year.
Ivana Kapitanović marked this match with 20 saves. Valentina Blažević scored 9 goals, Dejana Milosavljević scored 5, and Ćamila Mičijević scored 5.
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