Russell McKinnon, FINA Media Committee

Gwangju, South Korea.— Italy beat Spain 10-5 for its fourth FINA World Championship men's water polo crown at the Nambu University Grounds in Gwangju today.

Before a crowd of more than 3000 and a large, chanting Italian mob, Italy led 5-3 at halftime and 8-4 at the final break, totally outclassing Spain, whose women also had to settle for silver the night before.

Not since 1992 have these two met in a major championship final and that was the Barcelona Olympics when the match went into many periods of extra time. Ironically, on that day, current Italian head coach Alessandro Campagna was a member of the winning Italian team.

Italy is a quadruple champion, having won in 1978, 1994 and 2011 and has two silvers and two bronzes. In 1994, the score was also 10-5 and also over Spain.

Spain won in 1998 and 2001 in a golden period for the Iberian nation that also included the 1996 Olympic crown. It had three silver medals and, sadly, now a fourth.

Goalkeeper Daniel Lopez (ESP) was named the championships' best goalkeeper and Italy’s Francesco Di Fulvio the Most Valuable Player, such was his fortnight of excellence.

Outgoing champion Croatia took out Hungary 10-7 for bronze in what is a rematch of the 2017 gold-medal encounter in Budapest. Like last year, Croatia was the victor. This time Maro Jokovic was the saviour with an incredible six goals.

Olympic and World League champion Serbia took on Australia for fifth and came out spitting fire and racing to a 6-0 lead before closing at 13-9.

Greece beat Germany 11-6 for seventh place with Georgios Dervisis netting three.

Photos: Istvan Derencsenyi

Final rankings:
1. Italy
2. Spain
3. Croatia
4. Hungary
5. Serbia
6. Australia
7. Greece
8. Germany
9. United States of America
10. Montenegro
11. Japan
12. South Africa
13. Brazil
14. Kazakhstan
15.  South Korea
16.  New Zealand

Most Valuable Player of the Championship
Francesco Di Fulvio (ITA)
Most Valuable Goalkeeper
Daniel Lopez (ESP)
Highest Goal Scorer
Aleksandar Ivovic (MNE) 21 goals

Media All Star Team
Daniel Lopez (ESP) — Goalkeeper
Roger Tahull (ESP)— Centre Forward
Francesco Di Fulvio (ITA)
Aleksandar Ivovic (MNE) 
Maro Jokovic (CRO)
Dusan Mandic (SRB)
Gergo Zalanki (HUN)

Saturday Men’s Schedule

Classification 7-8
Match 45, 14:00, GERMANY 11 GREECE 6

Classification 5-6
Match 46, 15:30, SERBIA 13 AUSTRALIA 9

Classification 3-4
Match 47, 17:00, CROATIA 10 HUNGARY 7

Classification 1-2
Match 48, 18:30, SPAIN 10 ITALY 5

Leading scorers:
Aleksandar Ivovic (MNE)          21
Maro Jokovic (CRO)                 19
Gergo Zalanki (HUN)                18
Strahinja Rasovic (SRB)            16
Lukas Gielen (GER)                  15
Alvaro Granados (ESP)             15
Joseph Kayes (AUS)                  15
Blai Mallarach (ESP)                15
Alberto Munarriz (ESP)             15
Johnathan Hooper (USA)          14
Marko Stamm (GER)                 14
Hannes Daube (USA)               13
Alexandros Gounas (GRE)       13
Ben Hallock (USA)                   13
Dusan Mandic (SRB)                13
Ante Vukicevic (CRO)               13