Spain loses the gold medal in penalties against a historic Serbian side
Serbia have been crowned European champions in the men’s categoryafter defeating Spain 12-10 in penalty shootouts at the Picornell Pool in what was the last match of the European Water Polo Championships Barcelona 2018. The Serbian team, which was regarded as favorite to win the crown, has honored their label by conquering their fourth European title in a row. Hungary are the only nation to have enjoyed a better winning streak in the history of the competition as they won five consecutive European crowns between 1926 and 1939.
Despite playing intensely throughout the entirety of the match, the Spanish team, who were in the lead up until the half time break (4-3), and even increased their lead to (5-3) early on in the third quarter, hasn’t been able to keep up with an extraordinary Serbian side that will be remembered as one of the teams in the history of water polo. At the moment they are Olympic and European champions, and excluding the World Championships in the summer of 2017, they have won nine major international competitions in a row between the World League in 2014 and the 2017 edition of the tournament.
The performance from the Spanish team will live on in the memories of fans for a long time. Of course, there will be fans who will compare tonight’s match with the final of the 1992 Olympic Games that took place at the same venue, which finished with a similar result as the Spanish side coached by Manel Estiarte lost against Italy after three exciting extra time periods.
Moving on, bringing 11 out of the 13 members from their winning side at the Olympic Games in Rio to the championships, the only new inclusion being Nemanja Vico and Viktor Basovic, the legendary Serbian squad coached by Dejan Pesic has been the best team in the men’s competition at Barcelona 2018 as they won six out of their seven matches. Serbia has been at the podium at every edition of the competition since 1997, except for the 1999 European Championships.
Adding on, it is not surprising that the star performer in the final was Filip Filipovic, who has an incredible record to his name at the European Championships, as he has been crowned continental champion on six different occasions.
The partial scores in the match were 1-0, 3-3, 2-3, 1-1. The game finished with a tie at seven goals after Blai Mallarach tied the score for Spain with four minutes remaining on the clock. Unfortunately for the Spanish side, the penalty shootouts kept them away from claiming a historic first golden medal. On the other hand, Serbia were impeccable in the shootout as they managed to score each of their five penalties.
For Spain it was Fran Fernández who missed in the penalty shootout by sending his shot to the post. A quick flip to the script for him, as in the semifinals he was responsible for scoring the winner against Italy to seal their qualification to the final.
Finally, in the podium the best three teams; Serbia, Spain, and Croatia received their medals, while the awards for the best individual performers in the competition were handed out as well. Serbian superstar Filip Filipovic was chosen as the MVP of the competition, Ioannis Fountoulis from Greece went home with the top scorer award, and Dani López Pinedo received the prize for best goalkeeper after his superb performances throughout the competition.