Croatia crowned VRILITTOS 2018 champions
An incredible, dramatic finale at VRILITTOS 2018, saw Croatia retaining their title and capturing their third successive title, courtesy of a last-second goal by Luka Leskovec.
It looked almost certain that the final would be decided on penalties, but with only one second still on the shot clock, Leskovec’s seventh and sweetest goal, awarded Croatia a fantastic 21:20 victory over Iceland.
That was Croatia’s only lead in the game besides a brief one, when Jutrisa scored the game’s first goal at 1’.35’’.
Despite eight two-minute suspensions, due to their aggressive play, as well as Iceland’s goalkeeper Thorstensen 15 saves, Croatia stayed in contention and found themselves trailing by two goals, 20:18, five minutes from time.
It was Trninic who cut the difference to one goal at minute 56 to revive Croatia’s hopes for the trophy. In the following three and a half minutes none of the finallists scored.
Heading towards the final thirty seconds the score was still 21:20 in Iceland’s favour. 29 seconds from time Leskovec made it all square, 21:21, but still Iceland had the ball possession.
Maksim Akbachev called for a time out, but the plan he designed didn’t pay off. Croatia had five seconds at their disposal. Leskovec didn’t waste time. He grabbed the ball, dribbled and released a technical shot which beat Thorstensen to crown his teammates VRILITTOS champions once again.
ICELAND – CROATIA 20:21
Scoreline: 2:1, 4:1, 6:3, 6:6, 7:7, 10:9 (halftime), 11:11, 14:13, 16:15, 17:17, 19:18, 20:21
ICELAND (Maksim Akbachev): Sveinsson 1, Gustafsson 3, Thorisson 2, Haddsson 1, Aronsson, T. G. Johnsson 1, Palsson, Asthorssοn 2, Oskarsson 7, Vidarsson 1, K. M. Jonsson 2, Gudjonsson, Baroason, Eiriksson, Thorstensen, Karlsson.
CROATIA (Nino Markovic): Trninic 4, Jutrisa 1, Farkas, Puric, Lisac 1, Dendo, Svrznjak 1, Grdovic 1, Neralic 2, Leskovec 7, Salic 1, Tintor, Bakovic, Strkovic 1, Turcic, Pandza.
Referees: Alvarez – Bustamante (Spain). 2 mins suspensions: 2-4. 7m: 4/5-2/2. Direct disqualification: 59:53 Tintor (Croatia)
Luka Leskovec (Scorer of the winning goal – Croatia): “We feel overwhelmed. It was a fantastic final, we fought until the end we won the trophy.
“My only thought at the last act of the game was to run as fast as possible, make the shot and score. And this is exactly what’s happened.”
Maksim Akbachev (Coach Iceland): “Victory was within our reach, we almost touched it, but it slipped away from our hands. That’s life…
“I am so satisfied with our performance here. VRILITTOS 2018 was a fantastic tournament. I wish we will be next year.”