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Team Italy triumphs in men’s water polo

Italians defeat Spanish and claim the Most Valuable Player award
July 29,2019
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Italian men’s water polo players celebrate their victory after defeating Spain 10-5 to win the men’s water polo crown at the FINA World Aquatics Championships at the Nambu University water polo venue Saturday. [YONHAP]
Team Italy defeated Spain 10-5 in the final to win gold in men’s water polo at the Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center on Saturday.

After finishing the first quarter 2-2, Italy scored three goals in the second quarter to take the lead 5-3 against Spain. Then, by scoring five more goals over the next two quarters while Spain only scored two, Italy won the title, for the first time since the 2011 World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai.

This was the first time since the 1994 World Aquatics Championships in Rome that the two teams played each other in the finals. At that time, Italy defeated Spain 10-5.

With a win, Italy picked up its fourth gold at the world championships, becoming the leader in the all-time medal table in men’s water polo. Before winning in Gwangju, Italy won gold at the 1978, 1994 and 2011 world championships. In addition to four gold, Italy also won two silver and a bronze in men’s water polo at the world championships.

Looking at Italy’s streak at this year’s World Championships, they’ve been in solid form. Assigned to Group D, Italy won all three of their matches - against Brazil, Japan and Germany - to advance to the knockout stage.

Then, Italy continued their stride by picking up a close 7-6 win against Greece in the quarterfinals. By defeating Hungary 12-10, they successfully secured their spot in the finals.

Spain won its seventh medal in men’s water polo at the world championships - two gold, four silver and a bronze. Spain won back-to-back titles during the 1998 and 2001 World Championships. Since 2001, Spain hasn’t won gold.

Following the match, Italy’s Francesco Di Fulvio was named Most Valuable Player of the Championships while Spain’s Daniel Lopez was named Most Valuable Goalkeeper. Aleksandar Ivovic of Montenegro was the highest goal scorer of the Championships, with 21 goals.

In a bronze medal match, defending champion Croatia once again defeated Hungary 10-7. During the 2017 World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, the two teams played against each other in the finals and Croatia defeated Hungary 8-6 to pick up a gold.

BY KANG YOO-RIM [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]