2012 London Olympics, Water Polo: Croatia Upends Italy for Gold

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LONDON, England, August 12. CROATIAN coach Ratko Rudic led Croatia to its first Olympic gold medal as an independent nation, his fourth gold medal as a coach, with an 8-6 triumph over Italy at men's water polo at the 2012 London Olympics. Rudic also earned a silver as a player in 1980. Rudic initially guided Yugoslavia to gold in 1984 and 1988, and Italy in 1992. And, now, he has led his native land to gold this year.

Serbia claimed bronze in a disrupted final minute, overhauling Montenegro's last-quarter three-goal lead to win 12-11.

Classification for 7th & 8th – United States v Australia
– Australia closed their Olympic campaign with seventh place, defeating the United States 10-9 with 3-1, 5-3 and 8-4 quarter-time leads.
– It was Australia's best finish since their fifth place at Barcelona 1992, and Beijing 2008 silver medalists the USA's worst since Tokyo 1964. Australia gave up three goals in the last 71 seconds, which helped the scoreline to flatter the USA.
– USA captain Tony AZEVEDO scored twice, but failed to see out the game for the second time at London 2012 after being suspended for misconduct – the only player to gain two red cards.
– Ryan BAILEY scored twice to finish the leading USA shooter with 13, and Australian Billy MILLER's hat-trick earned him the same title for Australia, also with 13 tournament goals.

Classification for 5th & 6th – Spain v Hungary
– Hungary tore apart Spain 14-6 to finish what for them would be a disappointing fifth place, but the match was all about the occasion.
– It was likely the last Olympic appearances of Hungarian triple gold medallists Tamas KASAS, Gergely KISS, captain Peter BIROS and goalkeeper Zoltan SZECSI.
– It definitely saw the last of 41-year-old Ivan PEREZ (ESP), who was circled by his teammates in the water as they cheered his career, which started with Cuba at Barcelona 1992 and continued with Spain at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.
– All the stars performed and Hungary led 4-1, 7-3 and 12-4 at the breaks. The final minute ended anticlimactically as the teams declined to play and just held the ball to kill time.
– Hungary scored 98 goals at the tournament and Norbert MADARAS top-scored with 18 for Hungary.

Bronze medal match – Montenegro v Serbia
– Serbia survived a last-quarter three-goal deficit and a rash of major fouls and red cards to beat Montenegro 12-11 and take home the men's bronze medal.
– Both Serbia's lead coaches – Dejan UDOVICIC and Dejan STANOJEVIC – were ejected from the pool deck and the final few minutes were sheer mayhem.
– Montenegro twice had a shot in the dying seconds and the ball fell to Vladimir GOJKOVIC (MNE), who snapped the ball into the net amid a crescendo of noise. However, the crowd had drowned out the sound of the final siren, which had blown when the ball was still in his hand. Goal disallowed.
– Serbia won the bronze medal in one of the most chaotic Olympic matches in recent history, and did it with five players not finishing the match due to exclusions and suspensions. They were also rudderless on the pool side.
– Aleksandar IVOVIC top-scored for Montenegro with three goals, finishing the match prematurely on three major fouls, but not before finishing the competition with 19 goals in all. Sharp shooter Andrija PRLAINOVIC (SRB) was held to just one goal on the day, for a tournament high of 22.

Gold medal match – Croatia v Italy
– Croatia won their first Olympic gold medal as an independent nation with a comprehensive 8-6 victory over Italy.
– Croatia took the silver medal at Atlanta 1996 soon after independence, but now rise into the hall of champions with a dominant performance built on three Maro JOKOVIC goals, a 3-2 half-time advantage and 5-3 lead at the final break.
– The victory and the lack of goals against Croatia during the fortnight can also be attributed to the tournament's finest goalkeeper, Josip PAVIC (CRO), who was named London 2012's most valuable player. Centre forward Niksa DOBUD, the tournament's pre-eminent centre forward, was also named to the all-star team.
– Croatia beat Italy 11-6 in the preliminaries and it was no surprise that the result was repeated in front of a crammed arena.

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