Yugoslavia 11, Netherlands 8
Jul. 21, 1996
ATLANTA (AP) _ One good quarter is not enough to beat the reigning Olympic champion.
The United States lost 10-7 to Italy in its opening game of the Olympic water polo tournament Sunday.
After two quarters, the teams were tied 4-4. But Italy, which is also the world and European champion, outscored the Americans 6-3 in the last two periods and cruised home.
Despite the loss, the Americans remain in medals contention. The preliminary round is played under a round-robin format, with four teams from each of the two six-nation groups advancing to the quarterfinals.
``They couldn't have played worse. We can't allow goals from two meters,'' said U.S. coach Rich Corso. ``Let's forget it and move on.''
The U.S. team can redeem itself against Greece on Sunday.
The Italians took the lead with 4:19 left in the first quarter when Alberto Ghibellini slipped the ball under the arm of American goalkeeper Chris Duplanty.
Chris Humbert, the 6-foot-7 leading scorer for the U.S. team, tied it less than a minute later with a power-play goal from long range. But then the host nation went into a brief slump.
The Americans, who split two games with Italy before the Olympics, yielded three straight goals. They battled back, however as Mike Evans, a 36-year-old veteran playing his third Olympics, Chris Oeding and Wolf Wigo scored.
Amedeo Pomilio's second goal of the game made it 5-4 for Italy early in the third period and then Evans hit the post before Luca Giustolisi increased the lead for the defending champions.
The Americans turned the ball over on the next three plays, all with a man advantage in the pool, and never got untracked again.
``It won't take us out. We still have to win at least two in the worst-case scenario. We are still shooting for gold, nothing else,'' Evans said.
``They played like they always do, we just didn't put away our opportunities,'' Humbert said.
In earlier games, a dramatic lob by Tamas Kasas with eight seconds left gave Hungary an 8-7 victory over Russia in a battle of medal contenders.
In the first match of the competition, Yugoslavia, a three-time champion when it still included six republics, returned to Olympic water polo by winning 11-8 over the Netherlands. Yugoslavia now consists only of Serbia and Montenegro.
Croatia, the second powerful team to emerge from the breakup of old Yugoslavia, also began with a victory, beating Greece 8-5 behind three goals by Dubravko Simenc.
Spain, silver medalist four years ago at home in Barcelona, cruised to a 9-3 victory over Germany, helped by good goalkeeping from Jesus Rollan and two goals apiece from Salvador Gomez and Miguel Oca.
Andrei Kovalenko scored his fourth goal of the game with 16 seconds left to cap a rally by Ukraine from a three-goal deficit in a 6-6 draw with Romania. Romania led 6-3 early in the last quarter, but Ukraine fought back as Kovalenko scored two of his goals in the late run.
With Hungary going for a fast break in the final seconds, Russian goalkeeper Nikolai Maximov swam far out to try to intercept the attack. But Maximov was called for a foul and while he tried to return to his goal, the ball was slipped to Kasas, who found the empty net with a long-range lob.
``The Russian goalkeeper went out of the goal and I knew I had to put it in,'' said Kasas, who celebrated his 20th birthday Saturday.