Game 44 (M): 21:00, SERBIA 7 ITALY 8 in extra time (FT: 6-6) Classification 1st & 2nd
Quarters: 0-1, 2-0, 1-4, 3-1, 1-2, 0-0
Referees: Erhan TULGA (TUR), Mark KOGANOV (AZE)
Extra Man: SRB: 2/12. ITA: 4/12
Pens: SRB: 1/3
SERBIA: SORO Slobodan, Marko AVRAMOVIC, Zivko GOCIC, Vanja UDOVICIC (1), Marko CUK (1), Dusko PIJETLOVIC (1), Slobodan NIKIC, Milan ALEKSIC, Nikola RADJEN, Filip FILIPOVIC (3), Andrija PRLAINOVIC (1), Stefan MITROVIC, Gojko PIJETLOVIC. Coach: Dejan UDOVICIC.
ITALY: Stefano TEMPESTI, Amaurys PEREZ, Niccolò GITTO, Pietro FIGLIOLI (1), Alex GIORGETTI, Maurizio FELUGO (1), Niccoloi FIGARI, Valentino GALLO (1), Christian PRESCIUTTI (2), Deni FIORENTINI, Matteo AICARDI (3), Arnaldo DESERTI, Giacomo PASTORINO. Coach: Alessandro CAMPAGNA.
The Settebello, or possibly the New Settebello as one journalist put it, produced a game worthy of the sport and put them back to the glory days of the 1990s when it last won gold in Rome in 1994 and Olympic gold in Barcelona two years before.
This was a real water polo grand final. It had the packed house, stretching way down to the diving pool; it had noise; it had colour; and it had spectacular, defensive water polo. Counter-attack was out of the question. Less than two minutes into the game, GALLO opened for Italy from top right. It looked set for plenty of goals. Nothing more came in the quarter but plenty of balls hitting wood and goalkeepers making saves, especially TEMPESTI, named to the Media All Star team. PRLAINOVIC leveled the game for Serbia at the same time as the goal in the first quarter — 6:18. It was fortuitous as the ball was left stranded a metre short of the line and he lunged forward and pushed it in. CUK followed several minutes later when he rocketed in a shot from seven metres. Serbian coach Dejan UDOVICIC gained a yellow card for not switching his players fast enough. Italy closed the half with a timeout but unsuccessful shot. AICARDI opened the third quarter on the first attack with a backhand goal from two metres. FILIPOVIC, later named as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, scored his 17th goal on extra with a barreling shot down the bottom right. Serbia was in the front again at 3-2. AICARDI reignited the dream with a score off extra, a pass coming from his left to the near post. FIGLIOLI sent in a missile from top right after a lookaway movement, shooting down the line as the excluded player was making his way into play. Italy was back in front. PIJETLOVIC ended up in a fracas of sorts but no call came and Italy burst away. As PRESCIUTTI was taunting goalkeeper SORO, coach UDOVICIC was dancing on the sideline about the non-call. PRESCIUTTI finally scored and then thumped the air and sucked his thumb in triumph! A Serbian assistant coach was red-carded for making it a tango. Italy took a 5-3 lead into the final quarter. FILIPOVIC stepped up for a penalty at 7:20 but TEMPESTI proved his worth and went low to smother the ball. Less than a minute later captain UDOVICIC drove left, turned and scored across cage for 4-5 at 6:13. PRESCIUTTI converted extra after many passes and firing it in from deep right. A minute later Serbia called a timeout and the players rose from the bench with wild gestures. ALEKSIC was red-carded for his effort. Serbia had the extra-man attack and the ball was late on possession, reaching PIJETLOVIC in front of goal. He swept the ball low into goal for 5-6. Mayhem hit the pool soon after when TEMPESTI appeared to bury the attacker and the referee let it go but it went on too long and a penalty was called against him. It took a while to set the shot and FILIPOVIC scored his 18th goal. Italian coach CAMPAGNA went crazy and gained a yellow card. Italy went to a timeout at 1:33 when UDOVICIC was excluded. No goal. Italy’s shot was blocked by SORO. UDOVICIC then charged down the right and had his shot blocked out by TEMPESTI. GITTO, guarding UDOVICIC was immediately suspended. Italy went on attack and FILIPOVIC was excluded, followed by PRLAINOVIC in the last second of the game. Italy kept possession and the match went to extra time. Italy was down two players and Serbia one. No one was leaving the stadium. Italy scored off the opening attack of the first period of extra time as it had two men up. The ball swiftly found AICARDI on two metres who dragged the ball in for 6-6 at 2:43. Serbia gained extra and FILIPOVIC with his 19th converted for 7-7 at 2:15. FILIPOVIC could have equaled Cosmin RADU (ROU) as the highest tournament scorer at 20 but he had his penalty shot blocked by the fantastic TEMPESTI. He had pushed the ball back down the throat of his assailant twice in the game. A minute later — 0:35 — FELUGO put salt into the wound with a torpedo from seven metres for 7-8.
Serbia lost the ball at the other end and FIORENTINI had his final shot blocked by the defence, closing the first period of extra time. AICARDI had the first shot of the second period, turning and shooting high from centre forward. PIJETLOVIC’s shot was heavily blocked. Italy wasted the ball. PRESCIUTTI brilliantly stole the ball from hole man. FIGLIOLI shot quickly but the ball was blocked. FIGLIOLI smartly won a turnover and Italy used its extra-time timeout. GALLO turned over the ball soon after the restart and Serbia went to a timeout. PEREZ was excluded and PRLAINOVIC took a long shot but it went wide and Italy retained the ball and regained a title it relinquished in Perth in 1998.