The United States defeated world champion Italy with a 10-8 victory to advance to the bout for the gold in the final of the Fina Men’s Water Polo Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia.
The Americans will now face Montenegro, who beat Greece 8-4 to claim a win before adding on the titles they won in 2009 and 2018.
Italy’s hopes of beating the United States suffered a serious setback when Matteo Icardi was shown a red card for allegedly punching his opponent in the third quarter.
Hannes Daub converted the resulting penalty to 7-7 as Italy had to play for the next four minutes with an injured man.
That period proved crucial as the United States scored two more goals with Max Irving and Daub before Icardi’s replacement joined the group.
Only Pietro Viglioli made the difference for Italy as Marco Vavic scored the decisive goal three minutes from the end of the match.
USA coach Dejan Udovicic said: “I’m proud of my players and the way they played and the energy was crazy, if I may say so?
“This is what I want from my team in every match.
“We have a very young team.”
Greece advanced over Montenegro three times in the first half thanks to goals from Marius Kaputsis, Georgios Dervisis and Konstantinos Genidonia.
But the two-time winner found more power in the third half when Miroslav Berkowicz, Duzan Matkovic, Vladan Spike and Alexa Okrupina scored another goal.
Aleksandar Ivovich and Duzan Banisevic scored to give Montenegro an 8-3 lead, before Konstantinos Djikovic scored a late goal.
“It was a great match for us and we played well in defense throughout the match and deserved to win,” said Montenegro star Drasko Bergoljan.
“We came here to play great matches.”
Tomorrow there will be a battle between Greece and Italy for the bronze medal before they face Montenegro and the United States in the final.