Hungary had a chance to give gold medal favorites Serbia an early loss in the opening game of the men’s water polo tournament, but four goals by Serbia in the final quarter, including one with just four seconds remaining helped them match Hungary’s goal totals to finish in a 13-13 tie.
Hungary jumped out to an early lead, and were up by at least one or two goals throughout the first three quarters. They went into halftime leading 9-6.
Serbia switched goalies to start the second half, putting in Gojko Pijetlovic, who promptly stopped six of eight shots in the third quarter to help Serbia stay in the match.
Down 9-6 heading into the fourth quarter, Serbia scored in the first minute to pull within a goal. After allowing a goal, Serbia scored twice to tie the game at 12 goals a piece. It was the first tie in the game since three minutes remained in the first. Hungary’s Marton Vamos scored with just over two minutes remaining to give his team the lead, but Serbian superstar got the ball in front of the goal with less than 10 seconds remaining, and after several jukes was able to put it in the goal with the clock reading 0:04.
Filip Filipovic finished with a game-high four goals. Norbert Hosnyánszky had three goals for Hungary.
Serbia came into the game as the gold medal favorites after winning the 2015 World Championships. Though Hungary is historically very good in the pool, their squad missed a medal in the last Olympics and lost in the quarterfinals of the last World Championships.
With just over four minutes remaining in Saturday’s men’s water polo game between Italy and Spain, Italy found themselves down 8-6. The Italians then scored three unanswered goals in the final four minutes on their way to defeating Spain 9-8.
Italy trailed the entire match, including heading into halftime down 5-3. Italy’s Pietro Figlioli scored an extra player goal 1:38 into the second half to pull within a goal, but Spain answered on an extra player shot of their own with 3:55 remaining to go into the final quarter leading 6-5.
An equalizer goal again on an extra player shot by Figlioli tied the game, but Spain went on to score two unanswered goals to lead with 4:24 left on the clock.
The Italian team took advantage of extra player opportunities in the waning minutes. Figlioli and Andrea Fondelli both scored within a minute of each other to tie the gamea t 8-8 and Italy’s Christian Presciutti helped his team take the final lead on an long distance shot that bounced into the goal. Italy played out the final two minutes allowing just one shot by Spain that was saved by goalkeeper Marco Del Lungo with 30 seconds remaining.
Italy and Spain will play again on Monday. Italy will play France at 9:20 a.m. ET and Spain will play the U.S. at 10:40 a.m. ET.
Greece and Japan are two young water polo clubs both looking to break out on the international stage. Japan, a team that qualified for the Olympics for the first time in more than three decades, looked poised to start the Games with an unexpected win, but four Greek goals in the fourth quarter helped them take the Day 1 win, 8-7.
Greece took an early 2-0 lead after the first quarter, but Japan matched them with two of their own in the first three minutes of the second.
At the half Greece led 4-3.
Japan took over in the third quarter, scoring four goals while holding Greece scoreless. Keigo Okawa scored an extra player goal with just five second remaining in the third quarter to give Japan a 7-4 lead heading into the final frame.
After being outscored 4-0 in the third, Greece did the same to Japan, scoring four unanswered goals of their own in the last eight minutes. Christodoulos Kolomvos tied the game on a shot from just in front of the goal with 1:20 remaining, and Greece retook their final lead with 38 seconds left on the clock on a breakaway goal by Emmanouil Mylonakis.
Angelos Vlachopoulos led Greece with three goals. The Greeks were 8/23 shooting on the day.
Arai Atsushi, Koji Takei and Okawa had two goals apiece for Japan. Goalkeeper Katsuyuki Tanamura saved 11 of 19 shots in goal.
Men's water polo action returns at 6:30 p.m. ET with France taking on Montenegro.
France was held scoreless for the first 22 minutes of their first game against Montenegro Saturday evening. After trying to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, the team came up short as Montenegro defeated the French squad 7-4.
Montenegro jumped out to a 5-0 halftime lead after holding France to 13 missed shots in the first half with four saves from goalkeeper Milos Scepanovic .
France’s comeback attempt started in the third quarter, when they held Montenegro scoreless while notching their first goal with two minutes left in the quarter. France went into the final eight minutes down 5-1.
The French squad scored two more goals early in the first quarter. Ugo Crousillat scored from the right side, and 30 seconds later Mehdi Marzouki scored on a counter attack to bring the score to 5-3. After allowing a goal, France scored with 4:30 remaining to get back within two goals.
Both teams' defenses stepped up in the final minutes, each stopping three straight possessions as the clock wound down. France had a shot deflected with 50 seconds remaining, and Montenegro regained possession, went down the pool and scored on a shot in front of the goal by Darko Brguljian to go up three goals with 35 seconds remaining, squashing France’s comeback attempt.
Montenegro was heavily favored in the game after reaching the finals in the 2016 European Championships. Rio is France’s first time in the Olympics in 24 years.
Radovic Aleksander was a perfect 3/3 on shot attempts, leading all scorers with three goals for Montenegro. Scepanovic blocked eight of 12 shot attempts.
Montenegro will top-seeded Croatia Monday at 7:50 p.m. ET. France will play Italy Monday at 9:20 a.m.
Coverage continues tonight with home team Brazil taking on Australia.