Serbia is FINA World League champion again, for the fifth time in a row and 10th time in the history of this prestigious competition. Serbian water polo players beat Italy 10:9 (1:4, 2:0, 5:2, 2:3) in the final match of the Super Final tournament in the Russian city of Ruza.
It was a really good and very interesting game, but unfortunately for Italians, they still remain without a gold medal in FINA World League.
And this time Azzurri was so close and it’s fair to say they dominated through most of the first half.
Italians took a 2:0 lead in the first quarter, while Serbs could not materialize an extra player situations. And they didn’t stop there because with two more goals Italy had a big 4:0.
At those moments everything was on their side, so Serbian coach Dejan Savic had to react and change some things.
Stefan Mitrovic scored the first goal for Serbia just 30 seconds before the end of the first period.
In the second quarter, Serbian team started to play better especially in the defense. Prlainovic and Pijetlovic found the net and Serbs were back in the game.
Goalkeeper Stefan Mitrovic saved some big shots, while Serbia was having a man down in the swimming pool.
YOUNG SUBOTIC CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR SERBIA
After two consecutive goals from Gavril Subotic in the third quarter, Serbia took the lead for the first time in the game. And it could have been even more, but Rasovic missed from a good spot.
Italians answered quickly with Figlioli’s goal to equalize.
But Serbia was still in control of the game in this quarter and thanks to Stefan Mitrovic goal took a new lead. The same player scored again at the end of the third period and it was big 7:5 advantage for Serbia.
Italians pressed hard their rival in the last quarter. Di Fulvio scored from the counter attack and Gallo hit one more with an extra player. And Italy took a 9-8 lead!
But then Dusko Pijetlovic took things in his hands. At the half of the last period, he equalized, while two minutes before the end he scored again while Serbia had an extra man.
Italy tried to score and stay alive in the finish, but Serbian defense was solid as a concrete in those dying moments of the final game.
In the match for the third place Croatian water polo team easily beat USA – 10:4, while the host, Russia won against Kazakhstan 11:4 and took the fifth place.
PRLAINOVIC: WE ARE CREATING A TEAM FOR THE TOKYO OLYMPICS
After the game Serbia’s Andrija Prlainovic stated that this is just one more step in the preparation for the World Championship in Budapest.
“There are some teams against who we really don’t like to lose and with the Italians, we had some negative experiences, so we are now looking to continue to stay undefeated against them. This victory is important for the upcoming competitions”, said Prlainovic.
“We started unusually for us, but once again we showed that we can come. I’m glad for the players who felt this kind of tournament and games for the first time as we are creating a new Tokyo team that needs to stay at the top. As long as we play for Serbia we have the same goal – gold medal”, he added.
Italia head coach Alessandro Campagna was optimistic despite the loss.
“Since London Olympics, we did not play this kind of a game against Serbia. Physical intensity, tactical intelligence… Against Serbia you need to give 100%, we have done 85% today and to close the gap we have about four weeks. In Budapest, in addition to Serbia, we will have to be careful of Croatia, which today impressed me with a solid team and a granite defense and Hungary, without underestimating the others, but we have to think above all about ourselves“, said Alessandro Campagna.
Serbia – Italy 10:9 (1:4, 2:0, 5:2, 2:3)
Serbia: S. Mitrovic 3, D. Pijetlovic 3, Subotic 2, Filipovic, Prlainovic
Italy: Di Fulvio 3, Figlioli 3, Gallo, Bodegas, Gitto
Croatia – USA 10-4 (5:1, 3:1, 1:1, 1:1)
Kazakhstan – Russia 4-11 (1:2, 1:3, 1:1, 1:5)
Australia -Japan 11-4 (2:0, 3:2, 4:1, 2:1)