Serbia will play Italy for the gold medal at the FINA World Men’s Junior Water Polo Championships at the Swimming Complex Podolí, in Prague on Sunday.

In the medal semifinals, Serbia beat Hungary 10-7 and Italy needed a 4-2 penalty shootout to down Montenegro 14-12 after the match was tied at 10-10 thanks to a brilliant 4-1 final quarter by Montenegro.

For Serbia it could be redemption for the loss to Greece in the 2019 final and ensures that it will win a seventh consecutive medal stretching back to 2009, including golds in 2011 and 2015. For Italy, it is a chance to add to its victories in 1993, 1999 and 2013.

Photos courtesy of Total Waterpolo —

Serbia won the first semifinal, coming from 2-1 behind at the first quarter to win the next three with precision — 4-2, 3-2 and 2-1. Marko Radulovic continued his excellent form all tournament with three goals for Serbia.

Hungary’s best — brothers Vince and Vendel Vigvari and Akos Konarik — have the pedigree to advance in the sport as they were coached by the “Master”, the late Tibor Benedek at UVSE. Vince and Akos scored twice today.

The most exciting match of the day came in the second medal semifinal between Italy and Montenegro.

Italy, playing without regular head coach Alberto Angelini who was sidelined with a red card on Friday, had trouble with today’s head coach, legendary centre forward Alessandro Calcaterra. He was red-carded at 4:23 in the final period when Montenegro dragged the match to within a goal of Italy. In the ensuing timeout, it was left to captain Filippo Ferrero to call the shots.

Italy had the match in hand at halftime and that 6-3 advantage expanded to 8-4 when Davide Occhione sent in a missile from the top at 3:56. Montenegro scored two of the next three goals with Vasilije Radovic gaining the 9-6 goal on rebound. Montenegro bridged the gap to 9-8 down when Dordije Stanojevic caught the defenders off guard with a sneak shot from the right. Occhione made it 10-8 on extra-man attack only for Radovic to score off a long two-metre cross pass, that had Calcaterra enraged, and Vuk Draskovic with a counter-attack lob for 10-10 at 3:47. Both teams had a timeout with no joy and Italian goalkeeper Roberto Spinelli shut down consecutive shots to keep Italy’s hopes alive.

The match went to a shootout and Italy was perfect with its four shots while Spinelli continued his superb run by stopping two penalty attempts. Occhione and Matteo Iocchi Gratta top-scored with four each.

In the classification 5-8 semifinals, Croatia blew away Greece 20-12 with an 11-2 second half after trailing 10-9 at halftime. Greece seemed spent and after finishing top of the dais in the previous two editions, now has the ignominy of playing Spain for seventh place. Jerko Panava netted five for Croatia.

Spain followed up with an equally resounding victory — the fourth in a row — downing United States of America 18-7. USA’s only resistance came in the third period, drawn 5-5. Unai Biel top-scored with five goals for Spain.

In the classification match 9-10, the Zoran-Bozic-inspired Germany finished with a 10-4 second half to defeat Brazil 16-6. Bozic was in everything, scoring three goals in each of the final two quarters for a tally of eight.

In the classification match 11-12, Russia overswam South Africa 18-7, built on a 7-0 second quarter for an 11-2 halftime advantage. Daniil Krasnov scored five goals for Russia.

In the classification match 13-14, Argentina pipped Kazakhstan 11-10 after being 4-1 down in the first quarter and then levelling at 5-5, 6-6, 7-7 and 9-9 before taking an 11-9 lead  inside the last minute and holding on for the win. Kazakhstan’s Yuri Gruzinstev hammered in five goals.

In the classification match 15-16, Slovakia beat Egypt 10-9 in a topsy-turvy match where Slovakia held an early 3-0 lead and Egypt was 8-6 ahead by the final break, only for Slovakia to come home like a runaway truck. Patrik Tisaj scored his three goals in that final period to equal team-mates Michal Varga and Patrik Adamec. Egypt’s Mohammed Elsayed was tireless with five goals of his own, scoring in every period.

Saturday results:

Classification 1-4 semifinals: Serbia 10 Hungary 7 (1-2, 4-2, 3-2, 2-1), Italy 14 Montenegro 14 in penalty shootout. FT: 10-10. Pens: 4-2 (2-2, 4-1, 3-3, 1-4).

Classification 5-8 semifinals: Croatia 20 Greece 12 (6-4, 3-6, 4-1, 7-1), Spain 18 USA 7 (4-0, 5-1, 5-5, 6-1).

Classification 9-10: Brazil 6 Germany 16 (0-3, 2-3, 3-5, 1-5).

Classification 11-12: South Africa 7 Russia 18 (2-4, 0-7, 3-3, 2-4).

Classification 13-14: Argentina 11 Kazakhstan 10 (2-4, 4-1, 1-2, 4-3).

Classification 15-16: Slovakia 10 Egypt 9 (3-2, 3-3, 0-3. 4-1).

Sunday schedule:

Classifications 7-8:
13:30 L66 USA v L65  Greece

Classifications 5-6:
15:00 W66 Spain v W65 Croatia

Classifications 3-4:
16:30 L68 Montenegro v L67 Hungary

Classifications 1-2:
18:00 W68 Italy v W67 Serbia