United States of America and Montenegro had victories in the day's first session to remain unbeaten. For USA, it was a simple 20-3 romp over South Africa in Group A. For Spain, it was an Olympic-defining defeat of the world's best team this year in Montenegro — 8-6.Spain was full of control and the win comes so quickly after the opening win over Olympic champion Serbia.
GROUP A. SOUTH AFRICA vs USA: 3-20
An on-fire United States of America snared a second win by defeating and out-of-sorts South Africa 20-3 in their Group A encounter.
It was a total performance by the North Americans who emerged victorious on Sunday — 15-13 against Japan — and wanted to blow out the memories of that tight match.
“It was a great match for us and we were firing on all cylinders. It’s good preparation for the Italian game (Thursday), which is a crucial match, setting us up for the quarterfinals.”
For the South Africans, it was far from the first-day loss to Italy (21-2) where it showed plenty of spirit and vigour. Today, the showing was far from world standard, as head coach Paul Martin attests.
The two teams were evenly matched on the physical side, but USA had the guile, speed, shooting power, ability and speed to pick the right option.
USA had control from the start and even had a penalty chance hit the upright.
The score moved to 5-0 with five different scorers early in the second quarter before South Africa registered a blast from the top by Jason Evezard. The rest of the period fell USA’s way with seven straight goals, Ben Stevenson scoring twice and Max Irving collecting his first goal in his 100th international appearance. Hannes Daube made the sheet on extra to close the first-half scoring to make up for his penalty miss.
South Africa opened the second half through Yaseen Margro on counter-attack. Alex Bowen Ben Hallock and Dylan Woodhead all netted a second goal as the score moved to 15-2 at the final break.
The margin ballooned to 19-2 through Daube, Irving, Hooper from the penalty line and Hallock at centre forward. Nardus Badenhorst brought up South Africa’s third goal on extra-man attack at 0:36 and Hallock nailed his fourth from nine attempts to close the scoring at 0:04 and 20-3.
USA’s extra-man count of eight from 10 was most impressive.
Match 12, 010:00, Group A, SOUTH AFRICA 3 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 20
Quarters: 0-3, 1-9, 1-3, 1-5.
Referees: Liang Zhang (CHN), Voijin Putnikov (SRB)
Shots: RSA: 3/27. USA: 20/36
Extra Man: RSA: 1/4. USA: 8/10.
Pens: USA: 2/3.
Dejan Udovicic (USA) — Head Coach
“Good win and we are looking forward to the next game against Italy.”
Jesse Smith (USA) — Captain at Fifth Olympic Games
"It just felt great. I've been doing this a long time. I feel really lucky and grateful that we have the Games going on. It's been a tough year, for everybody, so it felt really good to get a game in, you know, as an athlete. I'm going to play these games as hard as I can, play for my teammates, and I'm just super grateful to have the opportunity to play." On looking emotional during the national anthems before the match: "I was thinking about my (five) kids at home, who are cheering me on. I think all of us have different reasons for motivation and I looked at a picture of my kids."
Paul Martin (RSA) — Head Coach
“Disappointing, to say the least. There were 12 individuals out there playing their own person match. We weren’t coming together as a team. We had a game plan but didn’t keep to it. It did on two-three passages of play… We regressed from the first game, which was unacceptable. There was not enough belief on counter-attack to score goals.”
GROUP B. MONTENEGRO vs SPAIN: 6-8
Spain stamped itself as a gold-medal favourite, evoking thoughts of 1996 in Atlanta, as it broke the heart of FINA World League champion Montenegro 8-6 in their Group B face-off.
“It was a very important victory for us, especially just coming after (beating) Serbia (13-12 on Sunday). Montenegro is a very strong team and we played very well. I am happy. We will now be in the quarterfinals. Now we think about our next game against Kazakhstan.”
Within the space of 48 hours, Montenegro has brushed aside two powerhouses of the game — beating Olympic champion Serbia 13-12 on Sunday — and now looks set to cruise toward the quarterfinals with the dream firmly intact. For Montenegro it was a first loss after coming from behind to defeat Australia 15-10 in the first round.
There would be no comeback today as Spain shut the door. Recovering after an opening Dusan Matkovic score, Blai Mallarach and Alberto Munarriz, with a fantastic lob, gave the advantage to Spain. Stefan Vidovic made amends before Alvaro Granados netted his third goal in Tokyo by converting a penalty just before the first buzzer.
Matkovic levelled from deep left before the match was won by Spain with three goals in six minutes spanning the halftime break. Mallarach and Granados, on extra-man attack, grabbed the 5-3 halftime lead and then Bernat Sanahuja scored from the top for what would be the defining difference.
Aleksandar Ivovic, the FINA World League Super Final most valuable player, who already had 40 goals at Olympic level, converted extra and Matkovic did the same for his hat-trick. Montenegro had redeemed itself, almost. Ivovic’s goal came about nine and a half minutes since the previous Montenegro goal.
The pain was delivered by Spain via Sanahuja with his second — doubling his Tokyo tally — with a blast from eight metres that spun off the water, creasing the right upright and into goal. The two-goal benefit proved comforting heading into the final eight minutes.
Spain moved to three ahead on its first attack of the fourth off a splendid extra-man play that had the ball zip right, then deep left and straight to Martin Famera — playing only his seventh international — on the left post and into goal. Ivovic was relentless in his desire for victory, and he chooses his shots wisely, scoring a second on counterattack at 6:23 — plenty of time to come back. Meanwhile Matkovic was not having the best of conversion days, scoring just three from 11 shots, but nevertheless, taking them when needed.
As the clock ticked down and both teams showed wonderful defence, Ivovic was searching for gaps and when a timeout came at 1:15, he had the ball and looking for a pass when the ball was stolen from him. Spain carefully retained the ball and steered the match to the rightful decision — a Spanish victory.
Spanish goalkeeper Daniel Lopez made 11 important saves and Slavin Kandic stopped nine for Montenegro. Interestingly, both teams left their second goalkeepers out of the match, a trend being followed by many teams in Tokyo where teams are allowed 12 on the roster while leaving an alternate in the stands.
Match 7, 11:30, Group B, MONTENEGRO 6 SPAIN 8
Quarters: 2-3, 1-2, 2-2, 1-1
Referees: Sebastien Dervieux (FRA), Georgios Stavridis (GRE).
Shots: MNE: 6/27. ESP: 8/25.
Extra Man: MNE: 4/8. ESP: 4/8.
Pens: ESP: 1/1.
Felipe Perrone (ESP) — Captain in his Fifth Olympic Games
“This is a tough group. I think if we beat Kazakhstan in the next game we will qualify for the quarterfinals. That is our first goal. We are very happy that we beat Montenegro. They were playing amazing water polo and were the winners of the World League (in June), so it was a very, very important match for us to win. We feel happy, but we still need to keep growing as a team. We need to keep playing better and be prepared for the quarterfinals."
Vladimir Gojkovic (MNE) — Head Coach
“We were not bad defensively, but not good on attack. There were lots of exclusions without goals, making it very difficult. After the first half we played much better on defence.”
Stefan Vidovic (MN) — Goal scorer
“First of all, congratulations to Spain. Before the Olympic Games I rated them first favourite for the tournament. We didn’t play bad; we missed a lot of chances. It was a high-standard game and good for the spectators.”