Baku, June 20, AZERTAC
Serbia held their nerve in a penalty shoot-out to advance to the men's Water Polo final following a thrilling semi-final against Greece on Friday.
Serbia will play Spain for the gold medal on Sunday in a rematch of their Group D game, which ended in a 10-9 victory for the Spanish side thanks to a last-second shot from Alvaro Granados Ortega.
He was once again the hero for Spain on Friday, scoring the winner in a 9-8 triumph against Croatia in their semi-final.
Serbia drew 7-7 with Greece after 32 minutes, before Stefan Todorovski stepped up to save one shot and Dimitrios Nikolaidis missed the target with Greece's seventh attempt.
"I asked the players, ‘who can do it?’ and I am a very happy coach that eight players stood up and gave me their hand to show they wanted to shoot," said Serbia coach Zoran Milenkovic. "That showed that we believe in ourselves."
Greece held similar confidence before the shoot-out, having beaten Hungary in the same fashion in the last eight on Wednesday, but this time luck was not on their side.
"We thought that we would qualify once again by winning the penalty shoot-out," said Kimon Alexiou. "That's life. Penalty shoot-outs are like Russian roulette, and we lost."
Croatia captain Marin Dasic looked to have forced a penalty shoot-out in the other semi-final against Spain when he levelled the scores at 8-8 with one minute remaining.
But Granados Ortega rose above the defence to beat the impressive Luka Podrug and book Spain's place in the final.
"It was as if I was floating in the clouds," said Granados Ortega of his decisive strike. "It’s impossible to describe how it feels."