Croatia defeats Montenegro, returns to water polo gold medal game

Croatia defeats Montenegro, returns to water polo gold medal game

Croatia men's water polo

Semifinal 1 – Croatia 12, Montenegro 8

Just like on the women’s side, the men’s water polo tournament will have the defending gold medalists playing in the final game to defend their title.

Croatia, who won gold in London four years ago, defeated Montenegro Thursday in the semifinals 12-8 to clinch a berth in the gold medal match for the second straight Olympics.

The Croatian team jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, but Montenegro scored three goals of their own in less than two minutes to tie the game up.

After two more ties in the second quarter, Croatia took a 7-5 lead into halftime, and never let Montenegro get within two goals the rest of the way.

Andro Buslje led Croatia with four goals on five shots. Teammate Andelo Setka added three goals. The Croatians were playing without center back Damir Buric, who was suspended a game for a brutality foul committed in the quarterfinals against Brazil.

After saving 15 shots in the quarterfinals, goalkeeper Marko Bijac added 10 more Thursday to bring his total to 52 for the tournament. Bijac has a 61 percent save rate in Rio.

Darko Brguljan and Aleksandar Ivovic had three goals each for Montenegro. Goalkeepers Milos Scepanovic and Zdravko Radic, who had a save rate of 55 percent in six previous games, combined for just two saves on 14 shots Thursday.

The loss puts Montenegro in the bronze medal match for the third straight Olympics. The Montenegrins have lost in the bronze game the last two Olympics. They’ll play the loser of Italy and Serbia Saturday at noon ET.

Croatia will play in the gold medal match Saturday at 4:50 p.m. ET against the winner of Italy and Serbia.

Other games

Hungary 13, Brazil 4

Hungary had a disappointing loss in the quarterfinals after taking the top overall seed in the tournament in group play.

Though they didn’t have a chance to medal, Hungary was still able to get back in the win column Thursday with a 13-4 rout of host Brazil in the classification rounds.

Balazs Erdelyi had four goals on four shots to lead Hungary, who had nine different players make the score sheet. Goalkeeper Viktor Nagy added 16 saves.

Brazil’s Adrian Baches had two goals. Slobodan Soro had 10 saves.

Hungary will now face the winner of Greece and Spain in the fifth place game Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET. Brazil, who has lost four straight games after winning their first three, will play the loser of Greece and Spain in the eight place game Saturday at 10:40 a.m. ET.

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