Italy make water polo history with fourth FINA World Championships title

The Italian men's team surprise Spain with a strong second quarter, to spark wild celebrations in Gwangju, South Korea.

By Andrew Binner

Italy secured a fourth FINA World Championships men's water polo title by beating Spain 10-5 on Saturday (27th July).

A lively crowd cheered the teams into a floodlit arena, before the 48th and final match of the men’s tournament in Gwangju, Korea.

The rainstorm that soaked USA's win in the women’s final on Friday had cleared, leaving the kind of dry, overcast conditions that water polo players love due to the lack of glare on the water.

Italy drew first blood by winning the sprint, and after less than a minute of play scoring the game’s first goal.

But the early momentum was short-lived, as Spain replied with a goal of their own in the next play of the game.

The rest of the first quarter was a tight affair with Spanish keeper Dani Lopez keeping out several long-range efforts from Italy.

In a feisty match, Italian goalkeeper Marco Del Lungo saved a Spanish penalty in the last play of the quarter to keep it 2-2 at the break.

Italy found their legs in the second quarter and started to impose themselves on the match, scoring four unanswered goals to go 6-2 up.

The Spanish attack started committing too many unforced errors and failed to register any meaningful shots on goal for the majority of this period.

They did eventually break through to bring the score 6-3, offering a way back into the game.

The biggest cheer of the night game in the third quarter when Francesco di Fulvio scored from a devastatingly quick counter-attack to make it 7-3.

A goal more apiece made it 8-4 going into the final quarter.

Despite a late bombardment from Spain, Del Lungo held firm with a string of stunning saves.

A final flurry of goals took the score to 10-5 in favour of the Italians and the wild celebrations from the team and its fans in the stands begun.

Both nations had qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by virtue of winning their semi-finals.

Italy finish the tournament with a perfect record of 6 wins and no losses, for a fourth title in the event having previously won in 1978, 1994, and 2011.

Only Serbia has more world titles, with a total of 5 (made up of 2 for Serbia and 3 for its predecessor countries - 1 for Serbia & Montenegro and 2 for Yugoslavia)

Full coverage of all the main events from the FINA World Championships are on our daily live blog, which you can find here.


Free live sport events. Unlimited access to series. Unrivalled Olympic news & highlights.