Spain claim quarter-final spot

10 Dec. 2021

Spain claim quarter-final spot

With one match day to go, both quarter-finalists from main round Group IV have already been determined. Following Brazil's example, Spain won their fifth straight match at the championship and secured a berth in the next stage. 

Croatia vs Spain 23:27 (9:12)

Croatia, who would have retained a chance to go through in case of a win, should be given credit for fighting hard for most of the game. Centre back Valentina Blazevic scored four goals in the first 11 minutes, as her team were tied at 5:5 with the hosts.

However, a few shots missed by the Balkan side and a couple of saves by Mercedes Castellanos provided Spain with a chance to pull ahead (9:5), forcing Croatia coach Nenad Sostaric to call for a time-out. 

The home side also missed a number of chances, including a penalty shot, but although their Balkan rivals cut the deficit to 9:11, Alicia Fernandez's goal secured them a three-goal lead at the break.

"It was a tough and balanced game, but we reached our goal and progressed to the quarter-finals," Spain's line player Ainhoa Hernandes said after the match. 

Ten minutes into the second half, Spain still had a three-goal lead, 17:14, in this intense match. 

Whenever the hosts tried to pull clear, their rivals found a way to respond, and only by minute 49, two straight goals by Carmen Campos and one by Soledad Lopez powered them to a confident 23:17 lead.

As the final whistle approached, it became increasingly obvious that Spain would not let the victory slip out of their hands. And although Croatia enjoyed a 4:0 run in the last five minutes to close the gap, it did not prevent the home side from clinching a win, much to the delight of their devoted fans in Torrevieja. 

And it was a fair result, given that Spain had a 71% shot efficiency compared to Croatia's 51%. On Sunday, the hosts will play against Brazil for the top spot in the group, while Croatia will try to end the championship on a high in the match against Austria. 

hummel Player of the Match: Irene Espinola Perez, Spain

Photo: RFEBM / J. L. Recio