SERBIA 12:11 CROATIA (1:3, 5:2, 1:3, 5:3)
SERBIA: G. Pijetlović, Mandić 4, Stojanović, Ranđelović, Ćuk 1, D. Pijetlović, Vico, Aleksić, Jakšić 1, Filipović 4, Prlainović 1, S. Mitrović 1, B. Mitrović
CROATIA: Bijač, Benić, Fatović 2, Lončar, Joković 1, Buljubašić 1, Vukičević 5, Bušlje 1, Lovre, Vrlić 1, Šetka, Garcia, Marcelić
Serbia is celebrating gold medal and qualifying for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year. Coach Dejan Savić and his players won a dramatic final of the World League Superfinal against Croatia thanks to the goal scored by Filip Filipović in the final moments of the match, 12:11.
Skilled play from Ivan Buljubašić helped Barracudas to take the lead that was doubled thanks to Ante Vukičević from the penalty. Serbia started the match nervously and we anticipated their first goal until the last minute of the first quarter when Milan Ćuk scored. In the following attack Marko Joković again took Croatia to two goal advantage.
At the beginning of the second quarter Barracudas scored another penalty thanks to Loren Fatović for maximal lead of his team, +3. From that moment on, coach Dejan Savić´s players played great in defense and Croatia hardly had the chance to score more goals. Serbia played a lot better in the extra player situations and had a series of five goals to take the lead and have two goal advantage. Ante Vukićević helped Croatia to reduce the lead and at the halftime result was 6:5.
Third quarter brought better game of current world champions and as Serbia scored only one gola, Croatia had the lead of one at the end of that period. They were saving their lead until four minutes in the last quarter when Filipović brought his team one step towards the gold medal. In the dramatic finish, Ante Vukićević was the best player in Croatian team as he leveled the result.
His third goal in the fourth period Filipović scored from the penalty, about 10 second before the end. Barracudas tried to organize the last attack, goalkeeper Bijač tried to score unsuccessfully, and the domestic crowd could start celebrating. Serbia was lead by Mandić and Filipović with four goals, and Ante Vukičević from Croatia had one more.
Serbian goalkeeper Branislav Mitrović stressed the great atmosphere in the team:
– Great atmosphere and I would like to thank the fans. My teammates saved me in several situation when I didn´t react as I should. We showed that we are a big team. Team captain Filip Filipović said before the game that, if we play as a team we will win the match, got their full meaning now when we won the gold medal and qualified for the Olympic Games.
Ante Vukičević scored five goals but even that was not enough to help his team win the final:
– I would like to congratulate Serbia for the trophy they won. We played a good match and some individual plays were decisive, as well as several our mistakes. Great match, Serbia is a top level team, guys are great and we always play difficult games. We have to prepare for the next competition hoping that we will have a rematch with Serbia..