Radnicki Kragujevac and Jug Dubrovnik will play in the final match of the 2021 Regional League in Zagreb tomorrow.
Radnicki was the first team that reached the final game. The Serbs defeated Mladost Zagreb, the champion of the previous two editions, after a dramatic match in the first semifinal of the Final Four.
Radnicki celebrated a 14:13 win after a penalty shootout (8:8 in regular time).
Radnicki is the first Serbian club that will play in the Regional League final. Mladost fell in the penalty shootout for the second time this week after losing to Vouliagmeni in the LEN Euro Cup quarterfinals.
The second match was also interesting, but Jug proved who the favorite was. The Croatian champion controlled the match and secured the ticket for the final with a 12:10 victory. Jug water polo players didn’t let Jadran surprise them once more (last week, Jadran defeated Jug in Dubrovnik in the Croatian Championship).
Jug and Radnicki played in the same semifinal group of the Regional League in Dubrovnik in January. Two and a half months ago, Jug convincingly beat Radnicki 17:6. But, it is hard to expect something similar tomorrow. Jug is the favorite, but Radnicki has its chances and hopes.
2021 Regional League Final Four, Zagreb
Semifinals (March, 27)
Mladost – Radnicki 13:14 (2:0, 1:1, 2:5, 3:2, PSO 5:6)
HAVK Mladost: Bukic 2, Vrlic 2, Milos 1, BIljaka 1, Lazic 1, Buslje 1 (Marcelic 13 saves)
KVK Radnicki: Rasovic 2,Radulovic 2, Toholj 1, Krug 1, Brankovic 1,Lukic 1 (Dobozanov 15 saves)
Extra player shots: Mladost 4/14, Radnicki 5/11. Penalty shots: Mladost 1/1, Radnicki 1/1.
Penalty shootout: Rasovic 0:1, Radu 1:1, Jankovic 1:2, Bukic 2:2, Radulovic missed, Milos 3:2, Ukropina 3:3, Vrlic-Todorovski saved, Lukic 3:4, Lazic 4:4, Rasovic 4:5, Radu 5:5, Jankovic 5:6, Bukic – Dobozanov saved.
For full statistics and play-by-play action visit: Mladost – Radnicki on Total Waterpolo Arena
The first half of the match was a defensive battle. Mladost’s Lovre Milos opened the scoring in the 5th minute, while Biljaka doubled the hosts’ advantage, with a double man-up, five seconds before the end of the first period.
Radnicki got on the scoreboard in the 10th minute when Radulovic found the net from a distance. Josip Vrlic regained a 2-goal lead for Mladost.
Radnicki was coming back step-by-step. The Kragujevac-based side equalized for the first time in the 18th minute (3:3), but Andro Buslje responded immediately for 4:3. The visitors equalized again, but Mladost’s captain Luka Bukic put his team in front (5:4) in the 21st minute. It was the last advantage for Mladost in this match. Radnicki scored two goals by the last break (Krug from an extra and Rasovic from a penalty) and earned a lead for the first time (6:5). The visitors’ center-forward Nebojsa Toholj opened the fourth period to double his team’s advantage (7:5).
Franko Lazic ended Mladost’s goalless phase, which lasted six minutes, for 6:7, and Vrlic leveled at 7:7 in the middle of the quarter.
The big drama was reaching its culmination. Shortly after Vrlic’s goal, Nikola Lukic converted a man-up for 7:8. But, twenty seconds after that goal, he committed a penalty foul. Luka Bukic sent the ball into the net from the 5m line for 8:8 , with four minutes remaining on the clock.
After that, there were a few missed and blocked shots on both sides of the pool. Mladost had the last chance to secure a win in the regular time. Seven seconds from the end, they forced an exclusion. The hosts had two shots in the final four seconds, but Lazar Dobozanov posted two saves and the match entered the penalty shootout.
Radnicki’s Radulovic was the first one who missed in the shootout. That happened in the third round. Before the fourth series, Radnicki coach Uros Stevanovic changed goalkeepers. Stefan Todorovski replaced Lazar Dobozanov. That turned to be a good move. Todorovski saved a shot from experienced Josip Vrlic and the teams were on equal terms again. After that, scorers made no mistakes until the 7th series, when Lazar Dobozanov (who returned between the posts after the 6th round) saved a shot from Luka Bukic, and Radnicki advanced to the final.
Jug – Jadran S 12:10 (3:3, 5:2, 3:2, 1:3)
Jug AO: Fatovic 6, Garcia 2, Benic 2, Loncar 1, Merkulov 1 (Popadic 14 saves)
Jadran Split:Marinic Kragic 4, Delic 3, Bego 1, Setka 1, Duzevic 1 (Podrug 5 saves)
Extra player shots: Jug 4/8, Jadran 7/15. Penalty shots: Jug 1/1, Jadran 1/1
For full statistics and play-by-play action visit: Jug – Jadran S, Total Waterpolo Arena
Jadran scored an opening goal. Andjelo Setka scored with a power-play advantage after just 25 seconds of play. But, Jug responded with two goals for 2:1. The Dubrovnik-based side had a 3:2 goal lead, deep into the first period. Still, Jadran Split caught up with the rival before the end of the first – 3:3.
In the second period, Jug built a 2-goal lead (5:3 and 6:4). Just 22 seconds before the end, Jug had a chance from a penalty shot. Loren Fatovic didn’t miss and increased the margin to three – 7:4. Antonio Duzevic replied ten seconds later for 5:7, but Fatovic closed the quarter in the last second with an action goal – 8:5. Fatovic made the difference in the first half, since he scored all five goals for Jug in the second quarter.
Jug captain Xavi Garcia netted two goals in the opening minutes of the third quarter for 10:5, and the Croatian champion made a big step towards the final match.Still, Jadran didn’t give in and reduced the gap before the final period (7:11).
Jadran was the better team in the final eight minutes, but Jug’s victory wasn’t in real danger. The Split-based squad came close to Jug in the 29th minute (9:11), but shortly after Hrvoje Benic made it 12:9 and killed all Jadran’s hope. Jerko Marinic Kragic netted from a counter-attack (10:12) with 79 seconds left. Both teams had chances with a man-up in the last minute, but Jug kept a 2-goal distance.
Sunday, March 28
Third place match (17:15): Mladost – Jadran S
FINAL (19:00): Radnicki – Jug AO
FOLLOW THE LIVE SCORE AND STATISTICS ON OUR TOURNAMENT PAGE