Serbia, the reigning European champion, and Spain, the hosting team, will play in the final game of the men’s tournament at the 33rd European Championships in Barcelona.
Today, in the semifinals title-holder Serbia beat its biggest rival and world champion Croatia. The Serbs are eyeing the 4th European gold in a row, after titles won in Eindhoven 2012, Budapest 2014 and Belgrade 2016.
Spain outsed Italy and entered the final game of the Euros for the second time in the history. The Spaniards were defeated by Yugoslavia in their first appearance in the final at the Europeans (Athens 1991). Their last European medal so far was a bronze in Belgrade 2006.
The first period of the match Serbia – Croatia offered a flood of goals. In the middle of the period was 2:2. Serbia produced a 3:1 series and entered the second quarter with a 5:3 lead. From that point on, their advantage was never smaller than 2 goals. The most of the goals in the quarter were scored in man-up attacks (Serbia netted 3, Croatia two from an extra).
Strong defenses dominated in the second period. Nobody could find a net until the 14th minute when Dusan Mandic brought Serbia a 3-goal-advantage (6:3). By halftime, Andro Buslje netted for 6:4. This period was marked by two red cards. Milos Cuk (Serbia) and Loren Fatovic (Croatia) were excluded with substitutions because of a conflict in the 13th minute. Earlier in the second quarter, Fatovic punched Filip Filipovic in the face, without a ball, but the referees didn’t see the fault which should be punished as a brutality (exclusion with substitution after 4 minutes)
Nothing changed in the third quarter, which saw two goals. The Olympic champion maintained a 2-goal advantage. Mitrovic hit the target late in this period (7:4). Buslje answered (7:5).
Tensions on both sides were rising. Ivica Tucak, Croatia’s head coach, was excluded early in the fourth quarter. The referee showed him a red card (after a yellow card in the 2nd quarter) because of a lot of complaints.
The thrilling battle in the water continued with Prlainovic’s first goal in the match (8:5). The Croats replied immediately from a penalty (Vukicevic 8:6). Serbia widened the gap after Dusan Mandic’s long lob for a new 3-goal-lead (9:6) 03:04 minutes from the final buzzer. Vukicevic found the net from the counter attack (9:7, 1:14 before the end). The Croats had a man-up attack 34 seconds before the end, but Serbia’s captain Filip Filipovic managed to steal the ball and keep it until the end. Serbia celebrated a 9:7 win. The Serbs advanced to the final.
Top scorers in the Serbian team, with three goals apiece, were Dusan Mandic and Milos Cuk despite he left the game in the middle of the 2nd quarter. Ante Vukicevic netted three goals for Croatia.
Serbia was much better in extra player attacks, it scored 5 goals of 11 chances, Croatia converted 3 of 12.
Dejan Savic, head coach, Serbia:
“It was extremely exhausting. A true battle. Weird in a sense that both teams had an inexplicable lapse in rhythm in the 4th period. I think their man-up and our mad-down and our defence decided the match. Now we have to think how to recuperate the best that we can for the final on Saturday.”
Filip Filipovic, captain, Serbia:
“I am very happy that we won the game, now we are in the final. We played as we planned before the game. We were focused on defense from the first minute of the game to the last. I am vey proud of my team. Also, congratulations Croatia, they showed a great level, it´s very hard to play against them. Now we have a day and half to rest before the final. And honestly, we don’t care about our future opponent”
Ivica Tucak, head coach, Croatia:
“We tried everything, but Serbia is a really strong team. I would like to congratulate the Serbian team. We have to fight for the bronze medal now, which is going to be a difficult game, but it’s possible to win it. We do not play well in one man-up situations, that’s our problem.”
Xavi García, player, Croatia:
“Unfortunately it wasn’t possible. We had nothing to loose and a lot to gain, but the Serbian team is very potent. We tried our best, but it wasn’t possible. Now we have to move on and focus on winning the match for the third place.” (quotes source wp2018bcn.com)
#WP2018BCN #waterpolo26/07 Highlights – Day 13 🤽♂️Semifinals 🇷🇸️SRB 9 – 7 CRO 🇭🇷Waterpolo Serbia #CroatiaWaterpolo
Posted by LEN on Thursday, July 26, 2018
The second semifinal encounter, between Italy and Spain, was opened with a Bodegas’s goal in Italy’s first possession. Then came the hosts. They froze the Italians for 13:05 minutes. Meanwhile, Spain netted four goals and went 4:1 up. But, the “Sette Bello” came back in the finish of the first half . Renzuto Iodice scored twice in a span of 1:21 minutes, so the Spaniards had a slim 4:3 lead at halftime.
Italy continued its series of goals to go 5:4 up in the middle of the third period. Mallarach leveled the score, but before the last period Italy had an advantage, thanks to Di Fulvio’s goal 6 seconds before the last break.
Di Fulvio added one more goal early in the 4th period for 7:5.
Spain, boosted by its goalkeeper Daniel Lopez Pineido (14 saves this evening) was able for new turn. The hosts broke mighty Italian defense (“Sette Bello” conceeded just 10 goals before this match). Spain scored three straight goals and retook the lead 1.45 before the end (8:7). Italy had a big chance in the last attack, but Lopez saved Figlioli’s shot five seconds before the last whistle. Spain won 8:7.
#WP2018BCN #waterpolo26/07 Highlights – Day 13 🤽♂️️Semifinals 🇪🇸️ ESP 8 – 7 ITA 🇮🇹️
Posted by LEN on Thursday, July 26, 2018
Matches for places 5th – 12th
Montenegro posted a narrow win over Hungary in the first semifinals for places 5th – 8th. Hungary netted the first goal the match, but the Montenegrins turned around a slim deficit to a 3:1 lead early in the second period. They led for most of the time. Hungary managed to level the score in the 29th minute. Zalnaki scored from an extra for 6:6. But, in the next possession, Djuro Radovic converted a man – up and Montenegro was in front again – 7:6. There were no goals in the remaining time, so Montenegro continued a tradition. This was the 4th encounter between Hungary and Montenegro at the Europeans. Montenegro defeated the big rival in all four games.
Montenegro will face Greece in the match for the 5th place. The Greeks defeated Russia. After the first quarter, it seemed that the Greeks would beat the rival with an ease. They were 6:1 up early in the second period. Led by captain Ioannis Fountoulis (7 goals from 8 shots this evening), they maintained a nice advantage until the halftime – 9:5. The Russians dominated in the second half of the match and step-by-step. They reduced the gap to one (12:11) 3:11 before the end. Russia had a chance to secure a penalty shootout. It had an extra man in the last attack, but Igor Bychkov got his shot blocked in the last second.
The encounter for the 9th place was almost identical to the game Greece – Russia. Germany took the 9th place beating the Netherlands 12:11. The Germans built a big advantage in the first period (5:1) and added one more goal in the first attack in the second quarter, so the Netherlands found themselves 1:6 down in the 9th minute. The Dutch didn’t give up, they came very close (11:12) with 2:44 remaining on the clock. But they couldn’t hit the net in the last two and a half minutes and Germany which won 12:11. Comparing to the 2016 European Championships in Belgrade, Germany moved two positions up, as well as the Netherlands. The two sides met in the match for the 11th place in Belgrade when the Germans posted a 9:7 win.
Two years ago, Romania and France met in the match for the 9th place. France achieved a 12:6 victory in Belgrade. These two teams clashed in Barcelona today, but this time they fought a battle for the 11th place. Unlike the match in Belgrade, Romania won today (10:6).
33RD EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS, MEN’S COMPETITION, JULY 24
For places 1th – 4th
Serbia 9:7 Croatia
(5:3, 1:1, 1:1, 2:2)
Serbia: Cuk 3, Mandic 3, Prlainovic, Mitrovic, Jaksic.
Croatia: Vukicevic 3, Buslje 2, Jokovic, Vrlic.
Spain 8:7 Italy
(1:1, 3:2, 1:3, 3:1)
Spain: Tahull 2, Mallarach 2, Munnariz, Granados, Fernandez, Perrone.
Italy: Di Fulvio 3, Renzuto 2, Bodegas, Echenique.
For places 5th – 8th
Hungary 6:7 Montenegro
(1:2, 1:2, 2:2, 2:1)
Hungary: Zalnaki 2, Angyal, Manhercz, Vamos, Kovacs.
Montenegro: A. Radovic 3, Dj. Radovic 2, Brguljan, Ivovic.
Greece 12:11 Russia
(5:1, 4:4, 2:4, 1:2)
Greece: Fountoulis 7, Dervisis 2, Mourikis 2, Vlachopoulos.
Russia: Byckhov 3, Kharkov 2, Merkulov, Nagaev, Kholod, Lisunov, Shepelev, Suchkov.
For places 9th-10th
Netherlands 11:12 Germany
(1:5, 4:4, 4:3, 2:0)
Netherlands: Winkelhorst 3, Gottemaker 2, Filipovic 2, Koopman, Van den Burg, Van Ijperen, Lindhout.
Germany: Van der Bosch 3, Real 3, Juengling 2, Reibel, Shulz, Stamm, Restovic.
For places 11th – 12th
Romania 10:6 France
(2:1, 3:3, 4:1, 1:1)
Romania: Radu 4, Chovieanu 2, Fulea, Georgescu, Prioteasa, Ghiban.
France: Crousillat 3, Guillaume 2, Vernoux.
Final day (July 28)
Final: Serbia – Spain (22.00 CET)
For 3rd place: Croatia – Italy (20.30)
For 5th place: Montenegro – Greece (18.15)
For 7th place: Hungary – Russia (16.45)