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Men’s water polo: Croatia takes the throne

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Croatia was able to beat the host team Hungary in the grand final of 17th FINA World Championships in the Hajós Alfréd Complex thanks to a great first quarter and three goals from captain Sandro Sukno.

Finals of the 17th FINA World Championships:

Hungary-Croatia 6-8 (0-4, 2-0, 2-2, 2-2) 
Hajós Alfréd Swimming Complex, 7800 spectators, referees: Severo (ITA), Alexandrescu (ROU)
Hungary: Nagy V. – Gór-Nagy, Hosnyánszky, Vámos 3, Varga Dénes, Erdélyi 1, Mezei. Subs: Manhercz 1, Zalánki, Hárai, Török 1, Decker Á. Head coach: Märcz Tamás
Croatia: Bijac – Loncar 1, Buljubasic, Garcia 2, Setka, Sukno 3, Jokovic 1. Subs: Macan 1, Fatovic, Vukicevic, Krapic, Buslje. Head coach: Ivica Tucak

At the bronze game:

Greece-Serbia 8-11 (3-5, 1-2, 3-3, 1-1)

Hungary wanted to be the second team ever to win the world championships at home, while Croatia wanted to break the ice and finally take home a gold medal after winning a few silver medals in the last couple of years in FINA tournaments.

Croatia jumped off to a great start, Sukno scored on their very first attack of the game. They followed this up with three other goals and won the first quarter 4-0. Croatia defensed really well and Hungary's offense was really ineffective in the beginning.

Hungary started the second quarter much better with the lead of Vamos, who scored their first goal and had a steal right after that. The host team stepped up its defense and shut down the Croatian team in the second period. Nagy –who was voted for the best goalkeeper of the tournament – made some great saves and Hungary as a team played a lot better after the slow first period. There was 4-2 on the scoreboard at half time.

Hungary had the momentum and goals by Erdelyi and Manhercz meant that five minutes into the second half, the teams were even (4-4). This was the moment that woke Croatia up, Javier Garcia scored twice, both of them were deflected shots, so Hungary was a bit unlucky at the end of the third quarter.

After Sukno's goal, Croatia lead by three, but Vamos – who played brilliantly throughout the whole tournament and won the MVP award as well – scored twice. The second was on a crucial extramen situation and he decreased Hungary's deficit to one, when there was only two minutes on the clock. Sukno's third goal meant a two goal lead again and eventually Croatia's win in the final, so they became world champions. Sukno also won the final’s MVP award.

Tamás Märcz, head coach (HUN):

"We would like to congratulate the Croatian team, it was a great World Championship for them, from the beginning to the end they played flawless. They were concentrated, beating very strong opponents in the quarterfinals, the semi-finals and then the finals. They deserve their success. But I congratulate my team, it took a long way to the final from the January preparation until now.

It was not an easy game, it was very difficult to stand up after 4-0, but our players demonstrated how great water polo players they are, in the second and third quarters, were well-grounded that it might be close to the end. We were very close to turning the result. I'm happy for our silver medal despite it’s being always difficult after a losing game, of course, we do have to really appreciate it. We have to learn how to play in finals, this is what the Croatians already do better than us."

Hosnyánszky Norbert (HUN)

"Thank you very much to the audience, to the team, thank you for having me here. I think we have achieved a very nice result. Every final is different, in Barcelona, we have gone from Montenegro, now the Croatians are from us, but we came back and we got two unlucky goals. This is sport. Those who work for it has the fortune, but the opponent was better now. The World Championship was a great experience for me, I shall remember it as a nice memory. "

Viktor Nagy (HUN):

"I'm sad, because we came here to win today, and that we did not succeed. I'm sorry if we made the fans disappointed. This is sport. Our opponent was better today.”

Luka Loncar (CRO):

"This was a great tournament; I can congratulate the Hungarians as well. It was difficult to play in such circumstances, but we could show our strength during the two weeks. I believe that victory does not have to be explained. I congratulate the Hungarian and Serbian team for my silver and bronze medals.”

Milan Smodlaka, assistant head coach (CRO)

"We started well and that has determined the match. We were able to keep the game under our control all the time. The arena was fantastic, the whole World Championship was amazing, thanks for having us here, the organization was great.”

Márton Vámos (HUN):

"We started very badly, and the relapse took so much energy out of us that we could not move forward. Those who work for it have luck, but we did work on it though seems like the Croatians did it a bit more. We've been fighting all over, we did not give up, but the fact that the beginning was so bad decided the end result. "

Andro Buslje (CRO)

"It’s a fantastic feeling. After 10 years we became again world champions. Nothing clever does not come to mind now. First of all, I would like to congratulate my fellow players, we have played well throughout the tournament. We were better from game to game. We had minor problems, but we overcame them, and in both the finals and the previous games we showed that we are the best. We started very well organized so we gained the 4: 0 advantage. Then we stopped a bit, but after 4: 4 we did not let the Hungarian team get the lead. We believed in ourselves, we knew what to do for victory."

Final result of the 17th FINA world championships men’s water polo tournament:

1. Croatia (1 Marko Bijac, 2 Marko Macan, 3 Loren Fatovic, 4 Luka Loncar, 5 Maro Jokovic, 6 Ivan Buljubasic, 7 Ante Vukicevic, 8 Andro Buslje, 9 Sandro Sukno, 10 Ivan Krapic, 11 Andelo Setka, 12 Javier Garcia Gadea, 13 Ivan Marcelic)

Hungary (1 Viktor Nagy, 2 Béla Török, 3 Krisztián Manhercz, 4 Gergő Zalánki, 5 Márton Vámos, 6 Norbert Hosnyánszky, 7 Ádám Decker, 8 Miklós Gór-Nagy, 9 Balázs Erdélyi, 10 Dénes Varga, 11 Tamás Mezei, 12 Balázs Hárai, 13 Attila Decker)

3. Serbia (1 Gojko Pijetlovic, 2 Dusan Mandic, 3 Viktor Rasovic, 4 Sava Randjelovic, 5 Milos Cuk, 6 Dusko Pijetlovic, 7 Nemanja Ubovic, 8 Milan Aleksic, 9 Nikola Jaksic, 10 Filip Filipovic, 11 Andrija Prlainovic, 12 Stefan Mitrovic, 13 Branislav Mitrovic)

4. Greece
5. Montenegro
6. Italy
7. Australia
8. Russia
9. Spain
10. Japan
11. Kazakhstan
12. Brazil
13. USA
14. France
15. Canada
16. South Africa

MVP of the bronze game: Andrea Prlainovic (Serbia)
MVP of the final: Sandro Sukno (Croatia)
Top goal scorer: Ioannis Fountoulis (Greece) 23 goals
Best goalkeeper: Viktor Viktor (Hungary)