World champion Serbia heads expected bunch in men's water polo semifinals Shanghai
The script has gone as expected in the FINA World Championship men's water polo competition with the top four teams in the world making the semifinals.
It was not without difficulties and none more so that Croatia's 9-6 victory over Balkan neighbour Montenegro.
With just 14 seconds left in the match and Montenegro consigned to the play-offs for fifth to eighth, Montenegro head coach Peter POROBIC called a timeout, which incurred the wrath of Croatian superstar head coach Ratko RUDIC.
"The timeout was not necessary in such a high-class game where goal differential does not matter," he said after the match.
This after a tirade of words from POROBIC to RUDIC in the mixed zone for about five minutes.
RUDIC passed over the brutality decision levelled at Montenegrin player Milan TICIC after he allegedly struck Croatian Andro BUSILJE as "one of my players received a hit".
POROBIC called timeout and after the mandatory 15 seconds on its side of the pool, Montenegro moved forward and the incident occurred, declared by one match official as "accidental". The players converged in a threatening manner but the two referees managed to maintain control and decided what action should be taken.
TICIC will probably receive the mandatory one-match suspension but as the incident happened in a timeout and not playing time, there was no penalty shot. Montenegro had the attack and did not try to score, instead passing the ball to the opposition and finishing the game.
RUDIC said: "We played one very good, organised game. We prepared very well for the game. We played with discipline in defence as well as attack. We tried to neutralise their best players and we have good centres and good shooters. You know that they have (former Yugoslavian star) SEFIK in goal, so it was not easy."
In the first quarter-final game, Hungary got the better of the United States of America, but only just at 9-8 in an enthralling game where the match was tied at 7-7 by three-quarter time.
Team Hungary - Credit:Giorgio Scala
World champion Serbia, ,fired by a four-goal effort from left-hander Filip FILIPOVIC, mastered Germany 9-4 after being only
2-1 up at halftime. A 4-3 effort in the third period led to Serbia's victory.
Italy took the fourth berth for the semifinals and qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games with a 10-6 victory over Spain. Spain came close at times but never led or levelled the match. Italy's former Australian international Pietro FIGLIOLI top-scored with five goals.
In the round of 9-12, Canada rebounded from a bad match agains the USA in the second round to beat Romania 12-8 and Australia similarly poured it on with a 15-9 margin over Japan.
In the play-off for 13th place, Kazakhstan beat Brazil 9-7.
China beat South Africa 9-4 for 15th position.
Wednesday is semifinal day for the women's competition with Russia playing China in the first match and Greece taking on Italy in the second.