Water polo: Powerhouse Hungary felled by rivals Montenegro

Tue Aug 16, 2016 5:21pm EDT
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By Joshua Schneyer

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Montenegro put an early end to the medal bid of water polo powerhouse Hungary on Tuesday, clinching a spot in the semi-finals in a thrilling penalty shootout.

Also advancing were world champions Serbia, Croatia and Italy.

Hungary's men's team, the most successful in the sport's 116-year Olympic history, had arrived in Rio de Janeiro seeking to put things right after failing to reach the podium at the 2012 London Games.

The Hungarians, who have won gold nine times in previous Games, managed to battle back from an 5-3 deficit at halftime, leveling the score at 9-9 late in the fourth quarter.

In the decisive penalty shootout, however, Montenegro got the upper hand. Their goalkeeper Milos Scepanovic, 33, had shown lightning-fast reflexes to make dazzling blocks throughout the game and saved two shots in the shootout, which ended 4-2 in Montenegro's favor.

Scepanovic, who logged an impressive 13 total saves, said he blamed himself for allowing Hungary to score the late equalizing goal in regular time and felt under pressure to prove himself during the shootout.

"I was really upset because that last goal was my fault," he said. "I just didn't want to ruin a beautiful game. I'm so proud of the saves."

Through the group-round play, Hungary had shown they could hang with the best, drawing against Serbia in the first game.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Water Polo - Quarterfinal - Men's Quarterfinal Hungary v Montenegro - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 16/08/2016. Balazs Erdelyi (HUN) of Hungary and Drasko Brguljan (MNE) of Montenegro compete. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh