Hungary knocked out Olympic champions Croatia ©Belgrade 2016

Hungary booked their place in the semi-finals of the men's European Water Polo Championships in Belgrade with an 8-5 win over Croatia at the Kombank Arena in Belgrade today. 

The clash saw the Hungarians, nine-time Olympic champions, come up against the side that replaced them as gold medallists at London 2012.

Denes Varga scored a hat-trick in a match which saw Hungary lead after the first quarter and never relinquish the advantage.

Hungary are 12-time European champions but have not won the tournament since 1999.

In the day's other quarter-final, Montenegro upset six-time European champions Italy with a 10-7 victory to book a place in the last four against Hungary.

The Italians had won all of their group games but their opponents, the European champions in 2008 in their first appearance at the competition, proved too strong.

Montenegro's 2008 victory came just two years after the country had declared independence from Serbia following a referendum, and they will now be looking to add to that success on the territory of their near neighbours.

Greece are due to meet Serbia in the first semi-final tomorrow, before the Hungary v Montenegro clash on January 21.

Italy's women made it through to the quarter-finals with a 100 per cent record
Italy's women made it through to the quarter-finals with a 100 per cent record ©Belgrade 2016

Meanwhile, the opening stage of the women's tournament concluded with Italy making it five wins out of five to cruise into the quarter-finals as Group B winners.

The Athens 2004 Olympic champions beat Spain 9-8 to book a last eight tie with Greece - the country they beat to the gold medal in front of their own fans at the Games 12 years ago.

Spain, the defending champions, progressed as runners-up and will now meet Russia, while France made it through in third place by disappointing the home fans with a 7-6 win over Serbia.

That result means that there will be no host nation interest in the last eight as Germany's 20-9 demolition of Croatia booked their passage through at Serbia's expense.

France will meet Hungary in their quarter-final, with Germany playing Group A winners Netherlands.

All four quarter-finals will take place tomorrow.

The winners of both the men and women's tournaments will qualify automatically for this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Serbia have already qualified to defend their men's title at Rio 2016 having won the FINA World League final in Bergamo, Italy, last June.