Croatia's goalkeepers Josip Pavic, left, and Marko Bijac,, right, celebrate their victory during men's water polo semifinal match against Montenegro at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
Eduardo Verdugo
August 21, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Croatia is a win away from a second straight gold medal in men's water polo.

Andro Buslje scored four goals, Marko Bijac made 10 saves and Croatia advanced to the Olympic final with a 12-8 victory over Montenegro on Thursday.

It was the highest scoring game in Rio for Croatia, which was coming off a 10-6 victory over Brazil in the quarterfinals. Croatia also beat Montenegro 7-5 in the semifinals of the London Games.

''It's amazing, of course,'' Bijac said. ''I think we still don't think we know what we have done here, but for sure we don't want to stop here.''

World champion Serbia was scheduled to face Italy in the second semifinal Thursday. The final will be Saturday at Olympic Aquatics Stadium.

Croatia had to go with 12 players after Damir Buric was suspended for one match due to a brutality call in the victory over Brazil. But Buslje and Andelo Setka combined for four goals in the fourth quarter, helping Croatia turn away every push by the Red Sharks.

''We played without one player. It was more difficult, yeah, but finally every player (gave) his 120 percent and finally we played very (good) game,'' Croatia driver Javier Garcia Gadea said.

Darko Brguljan and Aleksandar Ivovic had three goals apiece for Montenegro, which finished fourth in each of the previous two Olympics. Milos Scepanovic, who made a couple of big plays in Montenegro's 13-11 win over Hungary in the quarterfinals, had just two stops.

Montenegro got within two goals twice down the stretch, but Setka responded each time for Croatia. Setka's power-play goal with 2:44 left made it 11-8. Buslje capped the scoring with a long range shot with 1:13 remaining.


Jay Cohen can be reached at

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)