August 08, 2015

KAZAN, Russia (AP) Serbia defeated Olympic champion Croatia 11-4 in the water polo world championship final on Saturday.

Serbia outshot Croatia 19-12, and Andrija Prlainovic led the new champions with three goals, earning the final MVP award.

Branislav Mitrovic, named goalkeeper of the tournament, stopped eight shots by Croatia.

''We gave our soul into the pool. We were like one, we breathed for each other,'' Serbian player Dusan Mandic said.

Croatia actually led 2-0 midway through the first quarter, then Serbia scored six unanswered goals, putting victory beyond Croatia's reach.

Croatia scored twice in the third quarter to close the gap to 7-4, but as they tried to continue the comeback in the fourth, Serbia piled on four more goals.

At the final siren, Serbia substitutes and coaches charged into the pool, where they slapped the water in celebration.

Croatia's Sandro Sukno, who scored twice, was graceful in defeat.

''What can you say? You can just say thank you and congratulations,'' he said.

The 2,500-strong crowd in Kazan included a prominent group of Serbian supporters, who booed and whistled during every Croatian attack, and even during the opposition's national anthem.

Before the game, some Serbian fans displayed a banner referencing the conflict between Croatian forces and ethnic Serb fighters almost 20 years ago. The banner was quickly removed by security.

Greece won the bronze-medal match against Italy, taking the penalty shootout 4-2 after the game finished 7-7 in regulation time.

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