PR69 - Croatia claims world junior gold medal at home in Sibenik, Greece takes silver


Croatia claimed the gold medal at the 15th FINA World Men’s Junior Water Polo Championships yesterday by winning a last-gasp, extra-time victory over Greece on the ninth and final day of the event held from August 22-30, 2009. Playing at home in Sibenik (CRO) in front of 2500 screaming fans, the junior Croatian squad gained their second gold in the history of this competition (they were also victorious at the 1997 edition in Havana, Cuba). The game was very close, and Croatia prevailed only after surpassing Greece, which had led for most of the game, in the final quarter. However, Greece held-on and equalised the score at 7-7, taking the game to two extra periods.

In extra time, Greece went ahead by 8-7 but Croatia equalised and the game would have gone to a penalty shootout except for a heroic winning shot by Marko Ivankovic (CRO), who was named Player of the Tournament. The final score was 8-9 (3-1, 1-0, 2-4, 1-2, 1-1, 0-1). Greek goalkeeper Georgios Papadogiannis was named Goalkeeper of the Tournament, while the highest goal-scorer of the tournament was Bence Batori (HUN) with 24 goals. The other Tournament All-Star Players were: Centre forward Nemanja Ubovic (SRB), Nikola Milakovic (CRO), Oscar Carillo (ESP), Nikola Markovic (MNE), and Angelos Vlachopoulos (GRE).

For the bronze medal, Serbia came from behind by 6-5 to beat Montenegro 7-6 (2-0, 1-2, 2-2, 2-2) just before the final buzzer. It was Srdan Vuksanovic (SRB) who fired in a seven-metre shot while poorly guarded to claim the winner just 10 seconds from time. In the other final games of the day, Spanish team captain Carillo scored a counter-attack goal just 2:20 from time to edge out Italy by 7-6 (2-1, 3-1, 1-2, 1-2) for fifth place, and Australia clearly won the play-off match for seventh-place against the USA with a final score of 11-3 (2-1, 4-1, 1-1, 4-0).

Final Ranking at the end of the Tournament:
1. Croatia
2. Greece                 
3. Serbia                     
4. Montenegro                     
5. Spain                         
6. Italy                        
7. Australia                     
8. United States of America                 
9. Hungary                    
10. Brazil    
11. Canada
12. Egypt
13. France
14. New Zealand
15. Slovakia
16. Republic of South Africa                    
17. Puerto Rico                                                
18. Iran
19. Uzbekistan

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