Serbia and Italy will play for the gold medal at the water polo FINA World League Super final in Russian city of Ruza. Both teams clinched their places after penalty drama in the semfinal mathes against USA and Croatia respectively.
The big final and the third place match will be played on Sunday.
The defending champion Serbia won 13:11 against USA and after the regular part of this match the result was 8:8. No one could expect that Americans could give so much trouble to the Serbian water polo team.
In the end, Serbs scored all their penalties, Cuk hit the decisive one and USA missed just one shot, but it was enough for Dejan Savic’s team to celebrate.
Through the whole game goalkeeper Baron led Americans and the managed to keep a clean sheet in the first period.
But, Serbia answered with very aggressive defense, while Aleksic finally found the way to Baron’s net and Stefan Mitrovic quickly increased to 2: 0. It was good for the USA because his players equalized in a minute and then took the first lead (3:2).
The Serbs were nervous at those moments. American players used the extra player and took a 4:2 lead.
USA team gained control of the game in those moments and led couple more times with two goal difference. On the other hand, Serbs commited to many mistakes especially in the attack.
Finally, Pijetlovic, after a series of failures, reduced to 6 5. Baron masterfully prevented Prlainovic from equalizing and then caught the parachute of Rasovic.
Rasovic had his revenge at the start of the last period for a standstill. Americans took the new lead thanks to Roelse. Prnainovic answered quickly for Serbia.
And then, for the first time since the first quarter the defending champions had a lead after captain Filip Filipovic found the net.
However, Americans did not surrender. They quickly equalized and the match went to penalties.
CROATS HAD A WIN IN THEIR HANDS
Italian national water polo team will have another chance to win the FINA World League for the first time. Azzurri won 9:7 against Croatia after penalty shootout, and it was 6:6 after regular time.
Alessandro Campagnia’s men played good in defense in this semifinal, especcialy when Croatia had an extra men in the swimming pool.
Luka Loncar opened the score sheet in this game, but Valentino Gallo equalized in the finish of the first period. Velotto, Di Fulvio and Gallo continued to torment rival’s defense in the second quarter.
But, Ante Vukicevic and Andjelo Setka found a way to keep Croatia’s hopes alive. And in the third quarter again thanks to Setka Croatian water polo team finally managed to equalize.
In the final period of the regular part of the game Croatians had a win in their hands. After Buljubasic’s goal in the last minute they took a 6:5 lead but the Italians fought in a counterattack by Pietro Figlioli for 6-6.
Ivica Tuck’s men’s selections left 20 seconds for the last attack but failed to score.
In the penalties the hero was Italian goalkeeper Marco Del Lungo who stopped the shots from Maro Jokovic, Ante Vukicevic and Javier Garcia. Figlioli, Gallo and Fulvio scored for Italy who was lucky to book a place in the finals.
USA – Serbia 11:13 penalties (0:0, 4:3, 2:2, 2:3 – 3:5)
USA: Bowen 3, Roelse 3, Detrain 2, Dunstan, Hooper, Hallock,
Serbia: Prlainovic 3, Filipovic 2, Aleksic 2, Subotic, Rasovic, D. Pijetlovic, Cuk, S. Mitrovic
Italy – Croatia 9:7 penalties (1:1, 3:2, 1:2, 1:1 – 3:1)
Italy: Gallo 2, Figlioli 2, Di Fulvio, Velotto
Croatia: Setka 2, Loncar, Buljubasic, Fatovic, Vukicevic
Serbia – Italy