Water Polo Men, Day 1: CRO 9 USA 7

BCN2013 - Water Polo

CRO vs USACroatia repulsed a determined United States of America in the second men’s water polo match, but not before USA caused a ripple in the pool with a 3-2 advantage late in the second quarter. Croatia regained momentum with a four-goal burst in the middle stages that left USA grappling for goals.

There was nothing between the teams in the first half, as the score suggests, but Croatia was unlucky not to have the lead with a last-gasp shot hitting the crossbar and seemingly crossing the line on the halftime buzzer. It was an enthralling period with Sandro Sukno opening the scoring on the first attack from point-blank range. USA equalised four minutes later.

The second period firstly gave Croatia the lead through Paulo Obradovic from the top on extra-man advantage before USA took the lead through John Mann and Matthew De Trane on extra. Obradovic equalised with an outside missile a minute from the long break.

The third period swung Croatia’s way with three straight goals — Maro Jokovic, Niksa Dobud and Petar Muslim — for 6-3 with De Trane steadying the USA ship with an extra-man conversion for 6-4 at 1:18.

Croatia went to three-goal margins three times in the final quarter and USA finished with a flourish as Mann nearly scored a spectacular back flip goal, not quite going across the line on the penultimate USA attack. Then he scored his second attempt with a message that he was here to enjoy the championship and further help his team to a medal.

It was the sixth time the two have clashed at FINA World Championships and it became the fifth victory for Croatia with the only loss at Fukuoka, Japan in 2001.

Quarters: 1-1, 2-2, 3-1, 3-3
Referees: Axel Bender (GER), German Moller (ARG)
Extra Man: CRO: 3/8. USA: 3/9
Pens: CRO: 0/1

CROATIA: Josip Pavic, Luke Loncar, Ivan Milakovic, Fran Paskuvalin (1), Maro Jokovic (1), Luka Bukic, Petar Muslim (2), Andro Butuje, Sandro Sukno (1), Niksa Dobud (2), Andelo Setka, Paul Obradovic (2), Marko Bijac. Head Coach: Ivica Tucak.
USA: Merrill Moses, Janson Wigo, Alexander Obert, Alexander Bowen (1), Matthew De Trane (2), Chancellor Ramirez, James Krumpholz, Tony Azevedo, Shea Buckner (1), Timothy Hutten (1), Michael Rosenthal, John Mann (2), Andrew Stevens.  Head Coach: Dejan Udovicic.