Spain’s men’s water polo team came as a surprise on Thursday when they defeated reigning world champions Croatia to qualify for the final of the World Swimming Championship, which they will play against Italy, and also for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, after a stellar performance.
The Spaniards defeated Croatia 6-5 after beating Olympic and European champions Serbia in the quarter-finals.
Spain, who won their last title in 2001, will face Italy on Saturday, who won the title in 2011.
Spanish goalkeeper Dani Lopez chained a series of spectacular saves as his team managed to open cracks in the Croatian wall to reach the break with a 4-2 lead.
Goals from Blai Mallarach and Alvaro Granados gave Spain a four-goal lead at the end of the third quarter, with Croatia counter-attacking in the closing stages of the match unable to change the score with minutes remaining.
Maro Jokovic, the match’s top scorer with three goals, narrowed the gap to 6-5 with 14 seconds remaining, but Spain resisted the pull to the consternation of Croatia captain Andro Buslje.