Host Italy won the trophy at the Men’s Sardinia Cup ended in Sassari this evening.
The “Settebello” defeated Serbia (12:10) in the first game of the last day and climbed to 1st position.
All games at the tournament were very balanced.
Before the 3rd round, three teams had chances to clinch the trophy. Serbia had 6 points, Greece and Italy three apiece. The Serbs needed a point in today’s game to remain atop. Italy had to beat Serbia with a 2-goal difference or more to secure 1st place regardless of the result of the last match, Croatia – Greece.
Italy did exactly what it needed and beat Serbia by two goals in a tense match with seven red cards! Seven direct exclusions are really something unusual for a water polo game, especially for a friendly match. Italy trailed 8:9 before the final quarter, but it produced a comeback just as it did against Croatia yesterday.
Croatia defeated Greece 15:10 in the last game and won third place, Serbia finished in 2nd and Greece in 4th place.
Italy and Serbia won six points each. Croatia and Greece have 1-2 records, so head-to-head matches between the teams with the same number of points decided the rankings.
The Serbs controlled the match for more than two periods. The Olympic champions led 3:1, 4:2, and 6:3. The hosts leveled in the third quarter (7:7), but Serbia entered the final period leading 9:8.
Already in the second period, the referees whistled the first double exclusion in the match (Italy’s Alesiani and Serbia’s Radulovic). In the third period, Di Somma and Martinovic were red carded. In the middle of the fourth period, Serbia left without Lukic, who received a red card because of a violent play. At the finish of the game, Stojanovic and Bruni were sent off for mutual misconduct. Two Serbian players (Vucinic and Randjelovic) and Italy’s Fondelli finished the match before the final whistle because of three personal fouls.
Italy opened the fourth quarter with a 3:0 series and gained an 11:9 lead. Mandic reduced the gap (10:11). Still, Di Fulvio found the net in the dying seconds, and Italy won the trophy.
The last match of the tournament, Croatia – Greece, wasn’t as exciting as the previous five duels in Sassari. Croatia built a big advantage early (4:1). The Croats, led by Loren Fatovic (6 goals), controlled the game and recorded a comfortable victory (15:10) to move to 3rd place.
Italy – Serbia 12:10 (2:4, 3:2, 3:3, 4:1)
Italy: Di Fulvio 3, Renzuto Iodice 3, Condemi 2, Fererro 1, Bruni 1, Iocchi Gratta 1, Dolce 1.
Serbia: Mandic 2, Randjelovic 2, Velkic 1, Vucinic 1, Pljevancic 1, Lukic 1, Drasovic 1, V. Rasovic 1.
Croatia – Greece 15:10 (4:1, 4:5, 4:3, 3:1)
Croatia: Fatovic 6, Bukic 3, Kharkov 2, Biljaka 1, Zuvela 1, Marinic Kragic 1, Krzic 1.
Greece: Kopelaidis 4, Argyropoulos 2, Papanastasiou 2, Vlachopoulos 1, Genidounias 1
Standings:1. Italy 6, 2. Serbia 6, 3. Croatia 3, 4. Greece 3 pts.
All results: Serbia – Croatia 9:7, Greece – Italy 9:8, Greece – Serbia 10:11, Croatia – Italy 11:12, Italy – Serbia 12:10, Croatia – Greece 15:10.
Italy, Serbia, and Croatia will face each other again in a few days. Between August 20 and 22, the tournament Serbia 2022 will be held in Belgrade. Besides these three teams, France will take part in the competition.
But, the tournament won’t be only a preparation for the European Championships in Split.
On Day 1, Italy and Serbia will meet. That game will be an exhibition match at the same time. It will be a farewell game for six aces who retired from the national team of Serbia after winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics – Fillip Filipovic, Andrija Prlainovic, Dusko Pijetlovic, Gojko Pijetlovic, Milan Aleksic, and Stefan Mitrovic.