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Croatia to defend title in waterpolo final

Croatia remain on course for back-to-back golds after defeating Montenegro 12-8 in the first men’s water polo semi-final to clinch a spot in tomorrow’s gold-medal match.

In a hard-fought match notable for aggressive grappling close to the goals, the Olympic title-holders’ win owed much to deft goalkeeping, and an almost impregnable defence.

Goalkeeper Marko Bijak made several crucial blocks to deny Montenegro’s prolific shooters, saving 10 of 18 shots on goal.

Though Croatia’s attack took fewer shots, they were more often on the money. Croatia’s Andro Buslje scored four times – an 80 per cent success rate.

Montenegro’s goalkeepers, by contrast, saved only two of 14 shots during the match.

“It’s always the most important part of the game,” Croatian goalkeeper Bijak said of his team’s superior defences on Thursday. “(Montenegro) have a few very good shooters.”

The victory takes Croatia within one win of retaining the title they won in London in 2012 and becoming just the fourth team in the 116-year Olympic history of the sport to win back-to-back gold medals.

Only Great Britain, Hungary and the former Yugoslavia – of which Croatia formed a part - have accomplished the feat.

Montenegro’s defeat denies them the chance to fulfil their dream of playing for Olympic gold for the first time as an independent team.

Other semi-final
Serbia vs Italy - 10-8

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