Serbia came into Rio as the overwhelming men's water polo gold medal favorites after winning the 2015 World Championships.
In the first game on Day 1, Serbia had to battle from behind to a 13-13 tie with Hungary, and Monday had to do it again, settling for a come-from-behind 9-9 tie against Greece.
Greece dominated the water in the first half, taking a 4-1 lead after two quarters. Greek goalkeeper Konstantinos Flegkas, playing in his first Olympics, showed no signs of nerves against the water polo powerhouses. Flegkas had four saves in the first half, including three on extra-player shot attempts by Serbia. Serbia was 1-13 on shot attempts in the first half.
After Greece scored a quick goal to extend their lead to four in the opening minute of the third quarter, Serbia started to find their rhythm. They scored four goals in the third, including two within 30 seconds of each other to take the lead to 7-5 heading into the final eight minutes.
Just 55 seconds into the fourth quarter Serbia’s Zivko Gocic put one in the net to draw within a goal, but Greece’s Christodoulos Kolomvos answered 30 seconds later on an extra-player goal to go back up two.
It was two goals by Milan Aleksic and Milos Cuk within a minute of each other that helped Serbia get their first tie with 3:36 remaining, and Nikic Slobodan added a goal of his own with 2:23 remaining to help Serbia take their first lead of the match.
Greek goal scoring machine Ioannis Fountoulis was the key for his team the whole game, and scored his fourth and most important goal of the game on an extra-player shot with 1:47 remaining to tie the game at 9-9. Greece has three chances to retake the lead in the final minute, but couldn’t convert.
Foutoulis led all scorers with four goals. Serbian superstar Filip Filipovic led his team with two goals.
Flegkas has nine saves in goal.
Serbia falls to 0-0-2 in Rio. They’ll try for their first win Wednesday against Brazil at 6:30 p.m. ET. Greece (1-0-1) will play Hungary Wednesday morning at 9:20 a.m. ET.
France’s men’s water polo team qualified for Rio for their first Olympic men’s water polo appearance in more than two decades. The young squad has not had it easy in their first two games, having to face medal hopefuls Montenegro in Game 1 and Italy in Game 2.
After falling down by four goals in the first half, the French team tried to make it interesting in the second half, but in the end four goals by Italy’s Matteo Aicardi was enough to lift the Italians to an 11-8 victory.
Aicardi had two goals in each half, including one from right in front of the goal as time expired in the second quarter. Aicardi’s arm from in front of the goal was too much for French goalkeeper Remi Garsau, who saved 10 of 21 shots on the day.
The game was high scoring early, with Italy taking a slight 4-3 lead after first quarter. Francesco Di Fulvio got out into open water, raced down the pool and sent a pass to Aicardi on the right side for an easy goal to go up 6-3 midway through the second.
With an 8-4 lead, the Italians changed goalkeepers in the second half, replacing Stefano Tempesti with Marco Del Lungo. France too advantage of the change, scoring two unanswered goals to cut the lead to two.
Down three, France had a chance to go into the final quarter down two, but turned the ball over with three seconds remaining to head into the final eight minutes down 9-6.
The two teams traded goals in the fourth with France never able to cut into the Italian lead.
Italy improves to 2-0 in Rio. They’ll play again Wednesday against Montenegro at noon ET. France falls to 0-2. They’ll try to get their first win Wednesday against the United States at 10:40 a.m. ET.
Australia’s men’s water polo team was 26 seconds from their second loss of the Rio Games, but John Cotterill didn’t let that happen.
Cotterill threw a shot past Hungary goalkeeper Attila Decker in the final seconds of the game to give Australia a 9-9 tie.
The two evenly matched teams tied four times in the first half, and three more times in the second. Hungary’s largest lead of the game came in at 6-4 in the second quarter.
Leading 6-5 at half, Hungary scored with 6:40 in the third, but Australia answered with three straight goals, including two long distance goals in the same spot from Richie Campbell, to take their first lead since midway through the first. Joe Kayes threw in a goal from the center of the pool to give Australia an 8-7 lead with 2:44 remaining in the third.
After Hungary tied the game at eight in the opening minute of the fourth, both teams' offenses slowed, going more than five minutes without a goal. Both goalkeepers had a combined six saves in the final eight minutes.
Hungary retook the lead with just under two minutes on a shot by Balazs Erdelyi, and held it until the last second heroics by Cotterill.
The tie is Hungary’s (0-0-2) second in as many games in Rio. They’ll return Wednesday to face Greece at 9:2 0 a.m. Australia (1-0-1) will face Japan on Wednesday at 8 a.m. ET.
Brazil came into the Rio Games as unknowns in the men’s water polo world. Given a spot in the tournament thanks to being the host nation, they’ve thus far made their presence known, opening the games with a win over Australia Saturday and following that with a decisive 16-8 win over Japan Monday night.
Japan scored two quick goals to open the game, but Brazil wouldn’t stay down long, scoring eight unanswered goals, including five in less than six minutes to finish the first quarter.
The lead was five heading into the final quarter, and grew to eight by the end of the match. Japan had no answer for the Brazilian attack, as they scored from seemingly everywhere in the pool, and found space with ease. Josip Vrlic even found a way to put the ball in the net from underwater, proving that there was very little that could stop the upstart squad.
Vrlic led all scorers with five goals, and teammate Felipe Perrone added four of his own. Brazil was 5-6 on center shots and had three extra player goals, including one final one by Felipe Silva as time expired.
Japan came to Rio as one of the weaker teams in the tournament, having not mad the Olympics in 32 years. Offensively, they shot just 26 percent on the night, and was just 2-9 on extra player shots and 2-12 on shots fromm beyond five meters.
Brazil (2-0) will look to keep their winning streak alive as they fight for a spot in the quarterfinals Wednesday when they take on No. 1 ranked Serbia at 6:30 p.m. ET. Japan (0-2) will take on Australia at 8 a.m. ET.
Through the first two days, Croatia and Montenegro had each played the two lowest scoring men’s water polo games in Rio. Croatia versus the U.S. had a combined 12 goals scored and Montenegro versus France had a combined 11, while every other game played had at least 17 goals scored. Given that defensive prowess, it was no surprise that the game when the two teams matched up was also decidedly low scoring.
Croatia scored just three goals in the second half, but Croatian Luka Bukic found the back of the net with eight seconds remaining, and that was all his team needed on the way to defeating Montenegro 8-7.
Croatia scored in the first 30 seconds of the match, but then the two teams went scoreless for the next six minutes. Croatia had a 4-3 lead at the half.
Defense ruled the first half. Montenegro had seven turnover fouls and five steals, and Croatia had eight turnover fouls and three steals in the first two quarters.
The defensive output continued in the third quarter. Croatia’s Luka Loncar scored with 6:51 remaining, but couldn’t find the net the rest of the quarter. Montenegro scored just twice, including a goal on a shot by Aleksander Ivovic that barely floated past the goal line while in the hands of Croatia goalkeeper Josip Pavic.
Tied 5-5 after three quarters, Montenegro scored with 2:40 remaining on a goal from beyond five meters by Mladan Janovic to tie the game late. It looked like the game would finish in a draw until Bukic caught a pass over a defender and threw it into the goal.
Montenegro’s last second desperation shot fell short as time expired.
Bukic had two goals in the match, matching teammates Loncar and Sandro Sukno. Darkno Brguljan and Mladan Janovic had two goals each for Montenegro.
Montenegro goalkeeper Milos Scepanovic saved nine of 17 shots, including four of six from beyond five meters. Pavic saved 12 of 19 shots, and held Montenegro to 0-3 on extra player attempts.
Croatia (2-0) will take on Spain on Wednesday at 7:50 p.m. ET. Montenegro (1-1) will play Italy at noon ET Wednesday.
Men’s water polo action will return Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. with Australia taking on Japan.