The Spanish men’s water polo team qualified for the Hungarian European Championship final on Friday after beating Croatia (9-8) in a duel decided by Alberto Munárriz’s goals and saving saves by goalkeeper Daniel López Pinedo.
The Spanish team did not start the game well, with a first quarter in which it remained unmarked against the defensive resistance of the Croatians, continental champions in 2010. A start starring the posts and stops of both goals in which only Marko Macan managed to move the score in favor of the Balkans (0-1).
Although those of David Martín did not take advantage of their numerical superiorities, the second quarter had a very different script. Álvaro Granados released the Spanish locker, but the Croatian gunman Andro Buslje responded immediately. Miguel de Toro and Alberto Munárriz, with two consecutive pitches, put the first advantage for the current world runner-up in the absence of 2 minutes to rest (3-2).
Daniel López Pinedo; Alberto Munárriz (3), Álvaro Granados (2), Bernat Sanahuja, Miguel De Toro (1), Marc Larumbe, Adrià Delgado (1), Francisco Fernández, Roger Tahull (1), Felipe Perrone (1), Blai Mallarach and Alejandro Busts
Marko Bijac; Marko Macan (1), Loren Fatovic, Luka Loncar (1), Maro Jokovic (1), Luka Bukic (2), Ante Vukicevic (1), Andro Buslje (1), Lovre Milos (1), Josip Vrlic, Hrvoje Benic and Javier García.
0-1, m. 4: Macan; 1-1, m. 9: Granados; 1-2, m. 11: Buslje; 2-2, m. 12: De Toro; 3-2, m. 14: Munárriz; 3-3, m. 14: Bukic; 4-3, m. 16: Slim; 4-4, m. 16: Loncar; 5-4, m. 19: Munárriz; 5-5, m. 22: Milos; 6-5, m. 22: Perrone; 6-6, m. 23: Bukic; 7-6, m. 25: Granados; 7-7, m. 27: Jokovic; 8-7, m. 27: Tahull; 9-7, m. 32: Munárriz; 9-8, m. 32: Vukicevic.
Semifinal of the European Men’s Water Polo Championship played at the Dune Aréna in Hungary.
However, equality continued to prevail in the pool and the Croats, at the hands of the two Luka, Bukic and Loncar, overcame the target of Adrià Delgado after a good circulation and established the tables in the absence of ten seconds for intermediate (4-4). Those directed by Ivica Tucak played the Olympic square.
The stops of Dani López (almost 62% of success), hero also in the quarterfinals against Serbia, were a lifesaver in the most difficult times for Spain. The 5-4 of the pamplona Alberto Munárriz, which took the third time to get ripped off, gave rise to three minutes without drilling the nets.
A drought with which Lovre Milos ended, to which Felipe Perrone replied to save the Spanish superiority and who again had in Luka Bukic the person in charge of bringing equity (6-6) before the final period.
With everything to be decided in the last eight minutes of infarction, Álvaro Granados assumed the responsibility and again achieved the advantage for Spain, but Croatia did take advantage of its numerical superiorities with the success of Maro Jokovic.
The appearance of Roger Tahull (8-7) was vital in the decisive section, knowing Martin’s men of the importance of stopping a rival attack and scoring to put two goals ahead.
But the fear of error, which led to the mistake on both sides, resulted in five minutes without goals that despaired the impatient benches and left everything to be decided at the last minute of the crash. Spaniards and Croats knew that any action would be transcendental.
It was then that there was a saving stop by Dani López and a goal by Alberto Munárriz to set the 9-7 in the absence of 30 seconds. A bit that was celebrated as a victory on the Spanish side and that only managed to placate the rage of Ante Vukicevic with a whip only ten seconds later.
There was no time for more. Spain managed his possession and with that he achieved a new ticket for another European final, the second consecutive after the one achieved in Barcelona 2018 (in which he fell against Serbia), which will face him this Sunday from 19:00 hours to the national team from Hungary