Montenegrin goalkeeper Milos Scepanovic made 13 saves on 22 shots in regulation of Montenegro’s quarterfinal matchup Tuesday morning against Hungary.
It was his final two saves, though, that were arguably the best.
After finishing regulation tied 9-9, the two teams went to a penalty shootout to decide which team would get to move on to the semifinals, and Scepanovic came away with two more big saves to help Montenegro win the shootout 4-2.
Scepanovic had eight saves on 11 shots from beyond five meters, and saved two of three extra player shot attempts in regulation.
The Montenegrins never trailed in the match, maintaining a two goal lead through the first three quarters. It was the fourth quarter when Hungary made a run. After going more than five minute without either team scoring a goal, Hungary’s Denes Varga threw up a shot from way beyond the five-meter line while falling backwards to tie the game at 9-9 with 1:11 left to play.
Montenegro had already missed a shot on a 6-4 opportunity that would have given them a two goal lead, and missed twice more in the final minute to send the game to a shootout.
After both teams made their first two shots, Montenegro’s Darko Brguljan hit his chance to go up 3-2. Scepanovic then stopped the next two shots, and teammate Vjekoslav Paskovic made his on Montenegro’s fifth attempt to end the game and send Montenegro to their third straight men’s water polo semifinal.
Five of Montenegro’s nine goals in regulation came from beyond five-meters. Aleksander Ivovic had three goals on five shots to lead the Montenegrins. Drasko Brguljan added two goals of his own.
Marton Vamos and Balazs Erdelyi had three goals each for Hungary.
The loss eliminates Hungary (2-1-3), the most decorated men’s water polo team in Olympic history, from medal contention. Montenegro (3-2-1) moves on to face the winner of Brazil and Croatia Thursday.
Serbia may have barely made it into the quarterfinals in Rio, but the gold medal favorites got off to a good start in the knockout rounds, defeating Spain 10-7 to move on to the semifinals.
Serbia jumped out to a four goal lead at the half, and though Spain cut that lead in half in the third, Serbia scored three goals in the fourth to win in decisive fashion.
After Spain cut the lead to two on an extra player goal by Marc Alferez with 1:38 left, the Spanish had a chance to cut it to one with just under a minute remaining. However, Alferez’s next shot attempt from the left side was blocked, and Serbia swam down the pool and scored on a goal by Dusan Mandic with 24 seconds remaining to put the game away.
Mandic had four goals, three in the first half, to lead Serbia. Filip Filipovic and Stefan Mitrovic added two goals apiece.
After starting the first half saving just one goal on eight shots, Spain’s Daniel Pinedo had a stronger second half, finishing with six saves. Guillermo Rios had three goals to lead Spain.
Spain (3-2-1) came into the quarterfinals at the top seed in Group B, but is now eliminated from medal contention. Serbia (3-1-2) will move on to the semifinals and play Thursday.
Croatian goalkeeper Marko Bijac came into Tuesday’s quarterfinal averaging nine saves in three games played in Rio.
He nearly doubled that Tuesday, coming away with 15 saves to ruin Brazil’s run through Rio and help Croatia come away with a 10-6 win to advance to the men’s water polo semifinals.
Down the entire match, Brazil had many chances to make up the deficit. The Brazilians missed 12 shots in the first half, and were just 6-32 shooting in the match. They made just two of nine shots in extra player opportunities.
Bijac saved two penalty shots in the first half. Despite Croatia having to play man down for the fourth quarter after an exclusion late in the third, Bijac still had five saves and held Brazil scoreless in the final eight minutes.
Maro Jokovic and Javier Garcia Gadea led Croatia with three goals each. Bernardo Gomes had three for Brazil.
Brazil (3-3) started the Rio Games 3-0, and looked primed to make a run as clear Olympic underdogs, but they lost their final two games in group play, and were never competitive against Croatia. Despite losing their chance at a medal, the Brazilian crowd never quieted or stopped supporting their new hometown heroes.
Croatia (4-2) will move on the semifinals in an attempt to defend their gold medal from the London Games four years ago. They’ll play in the semfinals Thursday.
For the fourth time in the quarterfinals, the lower seeded team won to move on to the semifinals.
In the final game, it was Group B No. 3 seed Italy who defeated Group A No. 2 Greece 9-5 to stay in medal contention.
Italy led from the very beginning, and never allowed Greece to get within two goals after the first four minutes. Despite shooting just 33 percent on the night, Italy was able to find the goal when it mattered most. They scored four times on extra player opportunities.
Pietro Figlioli had three goals in eight shots to lead the Italians. Teammate Matteo Aicardi added two goals on two shots.
Stefano Tempesti had 12 saves in goal, and stopped all seven of Greece’s shot attempts from beyond five meters.
Greece struggled all game to find the goal, making just 19 percent of their shot attempts. Konstantinos Mourikis and Ioannis Fountoulis had two goals each to lead the Greeks. Konstantinos Flegkas had seven saves.
The loss eliminates Greece (2-2-2) from medal contention. Italy will move to the semifinal to face reigning World Champions Serbia on Thursday. The game will be a rematch of the semifinals in London four years ago when Italy defeated Serbia and went on to win the silver medal.