Water Polo Reports - Men, FINALS

Kazan 2015 - WP

Serbia adds World title to World Cup and World League crowns
Serbia reclaimed the World title it lost to Italy in Shanghai four years ago with a dominant 11-4 victory over Olympic champion Croatia.
The perennial World League champion, who also won World Cup gold last year in Kazakhstan, will now channel its focus for next year’s Olympic title in Rio de Janiero.
Serbia was 2-0 down early and then kept Croatia scoreless until the third period, going on to record a powerful victory.
In the bronze-medal match, Greece was never headed, but Italy fought back for a 7-7 final score, requiring a penalty shootout. Greece won the penalties 4-2 and with the bronze medal came a satisfying Olympic qualification berth, one of two on offer at this tournament. Croatia had already gained the first spot as Serbia had pre-qualified as the World League champion.
Montenegro, second in Barcelona in 2013, played a controlled match against Hungary, winning 10-9 after leading 10-7 with two minutes remaining. It was a rematch of the Barcelona final two years ago when Hungary won.
In the play-off for seventh, United States of America beat Australia 10-6 with captain Tony Azevedo, playing his eighth FINA World Championships stretching back to 1998, scoring four goals.


Dusko Pijetlovic (SRB)

Alexandr Axenov (KAZ) 22


Josip Pavic (CRO)
Dusko Pijetlovic (SRB)
Alexandr Axenov (KAZ)
Francesco di Fulvio (ITA)
Ioannis Fountoulis (GRE)
Petar Muslim (CRO)
Aaron Younger (AUS)

1. Serbia
2. Croatia
3. Greece
4. Italy 
5. Montenegro
6. Hungary
7. United States of America
8. Australia
9. Canada
10. Brazil
11. Kazakhstan
12. South Africa
13. Japan
14. Russia
15. China
16. Argentina

Match 48: 22:00, CROATIA 4 SERBIA 11

Classification 1-2 (Gold Medal)

Quarters: 2-2, 0-3, 2-2, 0-4

Referees: Boris Margeta (SLO), Georgios Stavridis (GRE).
Extra Man:  CRO: 3/13. SRB: 6/9
Pens: Nil.

CROATIA: Josip Pavic, Damir Buric, Antonio Petkovic (1), Luka Loncar, Maro Jokovic, Luka Bukic, Petar Muslim, Andro Buslje, Sandro Sukno (2), Fran Paskvalin, Andelo Setka, Paulo Obradovic (1), Marko Bijac. Head Coach: Ivica Tucak.

SERBIA: Gojko Pijetlovic, Dusan Mandic (1), Zivko Gocic, Sava Randelovic, Milos Cuk (2), Dusko Pijetlovic (1), Slobodan Nikic, Milan Aleksic (1), Nikola Jaksic (1), Filip Filipovic (1), Andrija Prlainovic (3), Stefan Mitrovic (1), Branislav Mitrovic. Head Coach: Dejan Savic.

Team Serbia after their victory Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

Match Report:

Serbia proved why it is the best team on the planet and as worthy an opponent Croatia was, it had little chance against a rampant opponent. Serbia deserved victory after a flawless tournament. Croatia looked like going for the upset with two fast goals from Paulo Obradovic and Antonio Petkovic to start the match. Then Serbia regrouped and levelled by quarter time thanks to Andrija Prlainovic from the left and Dusan Mandic off a cross pass at centre forward. Prlainovic was at it again midway through the second quarter form the top and Milos Cuk, on extra advanced the Serbian dream to 4-2. Late in the half Filip Filipovic converted extra man off a quick pass and shoot motion for 5-2. Serbia had regained control of the match. Stefan Mitrovic opened the third period with a superb twisting move around his opponent in the deep left and smash it past Croatian goalkeeper Josip Pavic for 6-2. Sandro Sukno broke the goal drought for Croatia for 3-6, bringing up his team’s first goal in 14 minutes. Cuk scored on extra and late in the period Sukno closed the gap to three with a rapid shot on extra. Tournament MVP Dusko Pijetlovic converted extra at 5:59 for 8-4, his 11th goal of the championship. Prlainovic sent the house crazy with his third goal and Croatian head coach Ivica Tucak was beside himself with rage. Serbia was five ahead and cruising. A timeout to Serbia yielded nothing and soon after Nikola Jaksic scored a seven-metre shot for 11-4. Serbia was starting to celebrate and deservedly so. For Serbia it was a huge jump from seventh in Barcelona two years ago and Croatia moved up one. Serbia won in Rome in 2009 and in Montreal in 2005 when competing as Serbia & Montenegro. Croatia’s lone title was 2007 in Melbourne.


Andelo Setka (CRO)

“It was a tough match. The result is not good. We started very good, then they started to play better. They were the better team today. Thank you and congratulations.”

Match 47: 20:30, GREECE 11 ITALY 9 in penalty shootout (FT: 7-7. Pens:  4-2)

Classification 3-4 (Bronze Medal)

Quarters: 1-0, 2-2, 4-4, 0-1. Pens: 4-2

Referees: Adrian Alexandrescu (ROU), Radoslaw Koryzna (POL).
Extra Man: GRE: 2/11. ITA: 1/8.
Pens: ITA: 0/1

GREECE: Konstantinos Flegkas, Emmanouil Mylonakis (2), Georgios Dervisis, Konstantinos Genidounias, Ioannis Fountoulis (1), Kyriakos Pontiekas, Christos Afroudakis (2), Evangelos Delakas, Konstantinos Mourikis (1), Christodoulos Kolomvos, Alexandros Gounas (2), Angelos Vlacholopoulos (3), Stefanos Galanpoulos. Head Coach: Theodoros Vlachos.

ITALY: Stefano Tempesti, Francesco di Fulvio (1), Alessandro Velotto (1), Pietro Figlioli (3), Alex Giorgetti, Andrea Fondelli (1), Massimo Giacoppo, Nicholas Presciutti, Niccolo Gitto, Stefano Luongo (1), Matteo Aicardi (2), Fabio Baraldi, Marco Del Lungo. Head Coach: Alessandro Campagna.

Match report:
An Olympic berth for Rio 2016 was on the line in this match and the early stages did not reflect this. As the match warmed up, the action became more intense. Greece was never headed but a Pietro Figlioli penalty in the final quarter forced the match to penalties, which Greece won 4-2. In a hesitant first quarter, the teams collected seven fouls, but only Greek captain Christos Afroudakis penetrated the defence for 1-0 at 5:12. Despite late timeouts, both teams pressed hard and blocked well. The second period failed to excite the crowd in the early stages as both teams stifled attacks and one particular cross pass to the hole position failed to get a connection for Greece. One connection that did stick was Angelos Vlachopoulos from eight metres at 1:36. Seemingly the match had lifted and Vlachopoulos loved the occasion so much he scored again at 0:45 from deep right on a short pass to score unattended for 3-1 and his ninth goal of the tournament. Italy gained an exclusion and Pietro Figlioli converted from the left at 0:09 for 3-2. Greece was still in control. The scoring continued to flow in the third period as Emmanouil Mylonakis moved the margin to two from deep right. Alessandro Velotto scored from the same position for Italy soon after and Konstantinos Mourikis accepted a apass from Afroudakis down the left post on extra fro 5-3. Andrea Fondelli responded with an open shot from five metres when unguarded for 4-5 at 2:40. The goal trading brought Greece to 6-4 when Alexandros Gounas accepted what was an extra pass on extra-man attack down the left, followed by a centre-forward, backhand shot from Mateo Aicardi for Italy. The breathless nature of the match was riveting at this stage. Greece called the first timeout of the period at 0:38 when a full attack beckoned. Greece gained the extra-man attack and Vlachopoulos, who earlier collected his second major foul, converted for his third and 7-5 with six seconds left. Italy called timeout and scored the unthinkable goal with the goalkeeper passing the ball down the right and then the ball zipping through the air further down to Aicardi who faced and dragged the ball backwards across the face of goal goal at 0:01 for 6-7. Figlioli opened the final quarter in style, from the penalty line, for 7-7 at 4:26 The next minutes were exciting as teams shot and found the wood each, but there was no score and the match went to shootout. Italy went first and while Greece converted all four attempts, Velotto and di Fulvio had their shots blocked by Konstantinos Flegkas, giving Greece victory.

Greece against Italy - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia


Theodoros Vlachos (GRE) — Head Coach
“I cannot say many things now. We didn’t lose one game here, just on penalties (v Croatia). In this game we played fantastic water polo. We are ready to beat anybody. We can take something to Greece. We fly to Rio from Kazan (alluding to the Olympic qualification berth it just earned). One bronze medal after 10 years (Montreal 2005). We were happy and ready to play. I told the players this is an historical moment. I told them that anything that happens, we deserved one medal. We always had a one-goal advantage. We gave up one stupid goal at the end of the third period. I had a feeling at 7-7, how can we use this game? We didn’t want to go behind Italy. Today we deserved to win as Italy only scored n the last minute.”

Konstantinos Flegkas (GRE) — Goalkeeper who blocked two penalties
“I could anticipate all penalties. There is a bit of luck. But I try my best. I prepared mentally, visually, the shoot and the corner and time. We couldn’t lose it. The bronze medal was good, but the qualification (for the Olympics) brings a lot of joy. I hope also a ray of light to all the Greek people.”

Pietro Figlioli (ITA)
“I don’t think we had enough patience. It’s always difficult to chase the leader, but our ability to never give up to the end brought us to the penalty shootout. These errors completely change games.”

Match 46: 15:30, MONTENEGRO 10 HUNGARY 9

Classification 5-6

Quarters: 2-2, 2-1, 2-2, 4-4

Referees: Mark Koganov (AZE), Joseph Peila (USA).

Extra Man: MNE: 5/12. HUN: 5/12.

Pens: Nil.


MONTENEGRO: Dejan Lazovic, Drasko Brguljan, Vjekoslav Paskovic (2), Uros Cuckovic, Darko Brguljan (2), Aleksandar Radovic (1), Mladan Janovic (2), Aleksa Ukropina, Aleksandar Ivovic (3), Nikola Murisic, Filip Klikovac, Predrag Jokic, Milos Scepanovic. Head Coach: Ranko Perovic.

HUNGARY: Viktor Nagy, Miklos Gor-Nagy, Norbert Madaras, Balazs Erdelyi (2), Marton Vamos, Norbert Hosnyanszky (2), Daniel Angyal, Marton Szivos (1), Daniel Varga (2), Denes Varga (1), Krisztian Bedo (1), Balazs Harai, Attila Decker. Head Coach: Tibor Benedek.

Match Report:

This was a repeat of the gold-medal final two years ago, with Hungary finishing the victor 8-7. Today it was Montenegro’s turn to taste victory. Hungary opened through Marton Szivos and Montenegro responded twice through Aleksandar Ivovic and Darko Brguljan — both drag-downs off the two post positions — before Norbert Hosnyanszky converted his extra-man chance for 2-2. Vjekoslav Paskovic and Ivovic pushed the margin out to 4-2, with the fourth goal coming off a short drive right, completely flummoxing Hungarian captain Daniel Varga. Hosnyanszky netted his second on extra from the top and soon after had words with the referee and was suspended from the match, much to the chagrin of the huge contingent of Hungarian officials representing Budapest 2017, the host for the next edition. That was at 5:03 and no further goal came in the half. By this stage probably the best player for Montenegro was goalkeeper Dejan Lazovic, who blocked many Hungarian shots, some from close in. Daniel Varga levelled at the start of the third; Mladan Janovic gained a deflect off Viktor Nagy’s left hand from deep left for 6-4; and Krisztian Bedo, on extra, brought it to 5-6. Janovic lit up the stadium with a huge counter-attack goal at 5:39 for 7-5 and on the next attack Denes Varga drove down the left, accepted a pass, baulked and scored for 6-7 and his 18th goal of the tournament. The joy was short-lived as Aleksandar Radovic scored on extra from the top and Paskovic did a Janovic and scored a huge counter goal for 9-6 by 3:39. Hungary called a timeout, gained the exclusion and Balasz Erdelyi converted from deep left. The killer punch came at 2:19 with Darko Brguljan converting extra from the left post. The Hungarian attack saw a shot bounce wide off the post; the Montenegrins shooting wide; Hungary gaining an extra man and Erdelyi converting for 8-10 at 1:00; Daniel Varga scoring at 0:15 for 10-9, too little too late.

Montenegro against Hungary - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia


Classification 7-8

Quarters: 3-2, 0-2, 1-4, 2-2

Referees: Nenad Peris (CRO), Francesc Buch (ESP).

Extra Man: AUS: 4/9. USA: 5/13.

Pens: USA: 1/1.


AUSTRALIA: James Stanton-French, Richard Campbell (1), George Ford (1), John Cotterill (1), Nathan Power (1), Jarrod Gilchrist, Aiden Roach, Aaron Younger (2), Joel Swift, Mitchell Emery, Rhys Howden, Tyler Martin, Joel Dennerley. Head Coach: Elvis Fatovic (CRO).

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Merrill Moses, Nikola Vavic (1), Alex Obert, Jackson Kimbell, Alex Roelse, Luca Cupido, Josh Samuels, Tony Azevedo (4), Alex Bowen (2), Bret Bonnani (2), Jesse Smith, John Mann (1), McQuin Baron. Head Coach: Dejan Udovicic (SRB).

Match report:

USA trailed early and then controlled the match until the end, keeping Australia scoreless for a long period while building a base for victory in a match where extra-man goals dominated. The Aussie Sharks might have held a 3-1 lead in the first quarter, but 18 minutes without a goal gave USA the chance to surge ahead. When Aaron Younger scored on action for the 3-1 advantage off a long cross pass to the far post, it was the only action score until John Mann hammered in a centre-forward goal late in the third period. Everything else came from extra-man attacks or Tony Azevedo’s penalty strike in the second quarter. Australia ‘s scoring hiatus ended when Nathan Power converted extra at 0:30 for 4-8 to close the third period. Azevedo already had three goals and Bret Bonanni two. The match opened up in the final quarter with Bowen and Azevedo — his 15th of the championship — scoring action shots and Younger doing the same at the other end for his 19th of the tournament, but at 5-10 and six minutes remaining, all was lost for the Aussie Sharks. More than three minutes later, Australia narrowed the margin through Richard Campbell off a swift angled pass to centre forward.

Team USA - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia


McQuin Baron (USA) — Goalkeeper
“We obviously wanted to get a gold medal. Ending on a high note at the end of the summer  with Rio looming. Just one more year. I’m somewhat disappointed we didn’t do better. We have been playing as a team and working a lot on defence.” On the match: “Good defence leads to an excellent offence.”

Elvis Fatovic (CRO) — Australia Head Coach
“For me the preparation for this match started four days ago. We made so many individual mistakes. In the beginning we controlled the game, but we missed so many opportunities. We have to play until the end of the tournament and control all that emotion. Five games we had an excellent tournament. This is a bad feeling. My opinion, maybe we deserved to be in the semifinals. All the players know that.”

Rhys Howden (AUS) — Captain
“We are all pretty shattered losing a semifinal spot. We closed down and didn’t finish the tournament by continuing how we played in the round games. Our game slipped, very disappointing. In the rounds we probably played the best an Australian team has for a very long time, but we did not finish the way we should have. Come Rio, we can’t let that happen again.”