With three ties in three games, Hungary’ men’s water polo team came into Friday’s match needing a win.
Win they did, and in decisive fashion, defeating Japan 17-7.
The 10-point win was the largest margin of victory for a men’s team in the Rio games. The previous high was eight goals and no other team has won by more than five.
Hungary was in control early, going into the half up 11-3. The game was actually tied at 1-1 before the Hungarians scored seven unanswered goals in the next eight minutes. Scoring came easy for Hungary, who shot 50 percent on the day, with five goals coming from the center spot.
Hungary’s Gabor Kis even had a long-distance behind-the-back goal early in the second quarter, proving that he and his team had the hot hand. Kis led all scorers with five goals on 11 shots. Teammate Krisztian Manhercz added four goals and Denes Varga had three.
Japan scored three goals in each of the third and fourth quarters, but struggled from all over the pool. They were 0-7 on action shots, and 0-8 on shots from beyond five meters. Three of Japan’s seven goals came on extra player opportunities.
Goalkeeper Viktor Nagy stopped 11-18 shots, and was a perfect 6-6 on shots his way from five meters.
Hungary (1-0-3) looks primed to move on to the quarterfinals with the win. They finish group play Sunday at 7:50 p.m. against Brazil. Japan (0-4) is all but eliminated at this point. They’ll complete their stay in Rio on Sunday against Serbia at 6:30 p.m.
Sukno’s five scores helped Croatia pick up an important 10-7 win over Italy to move into a tie for first place in Group B.
The Croatian squad was coming off of a 9-4 loss to Spain, while Italy was a perfect 3-0 in Rio and sat at the top of Group B as one of just two teams in Rio still undefeated.
All five of Sukno’s goals came in the first three quarters. No other member of Croatia’s team had more than a single goal as they shot just 35 percent on the night.
Down two goals heading into the fourth quarter, Italy tried to make a comeback, and cut the lead to one on a goal by Valentino Gallo in the opening minute. The next two Italian shot attempts were missed as Croatia grew their lead and wound down the clock to stop whatever momentum Italy may have had.
Gallo led his squad as the lone Italian with more than one goal. Italy goalkeeper Stefano Tempesti made eight saves on the night.
Both teams will finish group play on Sunday with Italy taking on the United States at 2:30 p.m. ET and Croatia facing France at 3:40 p.m. ET.
Brazil came into Friday’s game against Greece a perfect 3-0 and at the top of Group A. That perfect record was shattered though by Greece who defeated the Brazilians 9-4.
The loss keeps Brazil, who clinched a berth in the quarterfinals after Wednesday's game against Serbia, at the top of Group A in a virtual tie with Greece, but the loss may stall some of the momentum.
Greece was in control for the duration of the game, outscoring or tying Brazil in goals in every quarter. Georgios Dervisis, Ioannis Fountoulis and Alexandres Gounas led Greece with two goals each. Greek goalkeeper Konstantinos Flegkas had seven saves on 11 shots, including three saves on four shots from beyond five meters.
Brazil had a chance just before halftime to cut the lead to one. Captain Felipe Perrone got the ball in open water and swam down the pool. However, the ball was stripped away by Greek defenders before Perrone could get a shot off.
With 15 seconds until halftime, Brazil had another chance on an extra player opportunity, but the shot went right into the hands of Flegkas as time expired.
Slobodan Soro had 10 saves in goal for Brazil. The win clinches a berth in the next round for the Greek team.
Both teams will finish group play on Sunday. Brazil will face Hungary at 7:50 p.m. ET and Greece will take on Australia at 1:10 p.m. ET.
All Spain needed to do Friday was win.
A loss to France Friday night would have set-up a Sunday showdown on the last of group play where any number of scenarios could have kept Spain out of the quarterfinals.
Luckily for the Spanish squad, none of that happened. Spain came away with a 10-4 win over France to clench a berth in the men’s water polo quarterfinals.
Spain was in control from the get-go, going up 6-1 at the half. With time winding down at the end of the first quarter, France missed a penalty shot that hit the post with 24 seconds left, and then gave up a goal to Spain with 5 seconds remaining in the quarter to finish the first eight minutes down 3-1.
France actually outscored Spain 2-1 in the third but ultimately the five goal halftime deficit was too much to overcome.
Spain had goals from six different players, led by Gonzalo Saglietti with three scores on three shots. As a team they had five extra player goals. Goalkeeper Daniel Lopez had nine saves, six on six shots from beyond five meters.
France shot just 17 percent on the night, missing 12 attempts from beyond five meters.
The loss eliminates France (0-4) from quarterfinal contention. They’ll play their final Rio game Sunday against Croatia at 3:40 p.m. ET. Spain (3-1-0) will face Montenegro at 11:50 p.m. ET.
Serbia came to the Rio Games as the overwhelming gold medal favorites after winning four of the last five major international tournaments.
Now, they have narrowly avoided heading home early to stay alive one more day.
Serbia came into Friday’s game against Australia winless, in fifth place in Group A and at the risk of being eliminated. Australia was in fourth, just on the cusp of moving on.
After a match that went back and forth all night, Serbia broke a late tie with three goals in the final three minutes to defeat Australia 10-8.
The two teams were tied at 2-2 after one, and after Australia went up two goals, Serbia scored twice to tie it again midway through the second. With four seconds until the half, Australia’s Aidan Roach threw a long pass to Rhys Howden who flicked the ball into the goal as the clock expired to give Australia a 5-4 lead heading into halftime.
Serbia got the lead back with just over three minutes to play in the third off of a goal from Milan Aleksic on an extra-player possession and a penalty shot by Andrija Prlainovic.
From there, the two teams went back-and-forth, tying again to end the third, and once more at the start of the fourth.
Finally, Serbia found some breathing room late. With just under three minutes remaining Nikola Jaksic slammed one into the goal off of a pass from Dusan Mandic to go up 8-7. A minute later, Serbian superstar Filip Filipovic added to the lead throwing one in left handed on an extra player opportunity.
Serbia scored one more time with 30 seconds remaining to put the victory clearly in their hands.
The win puts Serbia over Australia and into fourth place in Group A with one game remaining in group play. Both teams will play Sunday with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line. Serbia will play Japan at 6:30 p.m. ET and Australia will play Greece at 1:10 p.m. ET.
Men's water polo action will begin against Sunday at 11:50 a.m. ET with Montenegro taking on Spain.