U.S. men’s water polo team stuns world champions Croatia


The United States kept their medal hopes alive by stunning water polo world champions Croatia 7-5 on Saturday in the biggest upset of the Olympic tournament.

In another upset, an aggressive Spain trounced European champions Montenegro 12-6 in what centre-back Marc Minguell called “a perfect match”.

Hungary, zeroing in on a third straight Olympic gold, narrowly avoided a nasty surprise of their own, squeaking past Australia 13-12.


Croatia, seeking a fourth win after crushing Germany, arch-foe Serbia and Italy, succumbed to a U.S. team cheered on by a boisterous Chinese crowd and inspired by captain Tony Azevedo.

Still smarting from a 4-2 loss to Serbia on Thursday, the U.S. defence held Croatia to just three goals in the first two quarters and rendered them scoreless in the third.

“That’s what going to put us through - our defence,” said Azevedo, who opened the scoring with a corner shot in the first quarter, the first of his three goals.

“Croatia right now is playing their best water polo, and for us to beat them and control this game today, shows that we’re definitely in contention for a gold medal.”

Serbia breezed past China 15-5, the host country going scoreless for more than five minutes into the game.

The U.S. are now tied with Croatia and Serbia at the top of group B. All have one more preliminary round match to decide a ranking, with the leader earning an automatic semi-final berth.


The Croatians should have an easier time with winless China on Aug. 18. The Americans face Germany, who defeated Italy 8-7 on Saturday, while Serbia take on Italy.

Hungary, gold medallists in Sydney and Athens, meet Canada on Monday. The favourites in Beijing have scooped up 14 water polo medals in the last 24 Games.