Serbia Wins 1st Olympic Water Polo Gold

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Photo Courtesy: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

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By Dan D’Addona

After winning the European and world championships, Serbia’s men’s water polo team finally etched itself into Olympic history, winning the country’s first gold medal on Saturday at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Serbia defeated the defending Olympic champion Croatia team 11-7 to cap a stunning two weeks of water polo in Brazil. The Serbian players draped the flag over the goal and celebrated history in what is arguably the biggest sport in the country.

Serbia had finished third the past two Olympics and in 2004, Serbia and Montenegro lost in the Athens final. The former Yugoslavia won three gold medals in the sport, but now Serbia is wearing gold.

Dusan Mandic scored four goals to lead Serbia, while goalie Branislav Mitrovic made 12 saves.

Filip Filipovic scored twice and was named the tournament most valuable player.

Sandro Sukno scored three goals for Croatia, which won gold in London four years ago. Javier Garcia Gadea added two goals.

Croatia’s Marko Bijac was voted the tournament’s top goaltender and made five saves in the final before he was replaced by Josip Pavic after Filipovic scored to make it 8-4 with late in the third.

Italy beat Montenegro 12-10 to earn the bronze medal on Saturday. Goalie Stefano Tempesti made 10 saves and Christian Presciutti scored four goals. Valentino Gallo added three goals for Italy

Tempesti, who is 37, made 51 saves in his fifth Olympic Games — all coming after he had eye surgery in May after an injury. He told reporters after the match that he plans to retire.

It’s the second consecutive Olympic medal for the Italians, who won the silver medal in London, falling to Croatia in the gold-medal match. Italy became the only country to medal in each tournament in Brazil after the women taking home silver on Friday.

Montenegro, meanwhile, finished fourth for the third consecutive Olympics, narrowly missing a medal again.