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Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Saturday, 16 August 2008 13:50 UK

US shocks water polo favourites

Tony Azevedo
Azevedo managed to grab a hat-trick against the hot favourites

The United States upset strong gold medal favourites Croatia 7-5 on Saturday - but could still fail to make the quarter-finals in Beijing.

Tony Azevedo scored three goals for the US, who were stifling in defence, yet they must beat Germany on Monday to secure a place in the last eight.

"It's huge," said US coach Terry Schroeder. "They [my players] honestly can win this thing now."

Elsewhere, two-time defending Olympic champions Hungary beat Australia 13-12.

The victory for the US was the most significant for its men's water polo team in two decades, but Schroeder was keen to place its importance in context.

"They [Croatia] were playing as well as anyone here," he said.

"To beat them, I think upstairs is where these guys have needed to improve the most over the last couple of years.

"It's a huge boost, but it doesn't mean anything unless we win Monday."

Hungary, meanwhile, blew most of a five-goal lead before hanging on to beat Australia and clinch a spot in the next round.

606: DEBATE
Montenegro and Australia will play for the final spot in Group A on Monday.

Serbia also advanced with a 15-5 victory over hosts China, with Aleksandar Sapic contributing nine goals.

Also on Saturday, Germany beat Italy to keep their hopes of progression alive while Greece defeated Canada 13-7.

The Croats have been widely tipped to win gold in Beijing, having beaten Italy, Serbia and Germany by a combined 15 goals in their first three games.

But they are no longer a foregone conclusion to win group B and earn an automatic spot in the semi-finals.

The winners of each group qualify for the semi-finals, with the teams finishing in second and third playing for place in the last four.


see also
Croatia continue water polo run
14 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Hungary earn late water polo draw
10 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Swimming on the BBC
02 Oct 07 |  Swimming


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