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LONDON, England, August 9. THE United States finally ascended the gold medal dais with a commanding 8-5 victory over Spain in the women's gold medal final at the Water Polo Arena on Thursday of the 2012 London Olympics.
Earlier in the day, Australia needed extra-time to defeat Hungary 13-11 after tying the match at 11-11 in a repeat of the Beijing 2008 bronze medal match
Four of the gold medal finalists were named in the all-star team – the tournament's most valuable player Maggie STEFFENS (USA), goalkeeper Betsey ARMSTRONG (USA), Anni ESPAR and Jennifer PAREJA (ESP), Australian pair Holly LINCOLN-SMITH and Nicola ZAGAME, and Hungarian centre-forward Barbara BUJKA.
Classification 7th & 8th – Italy v Great Britain
– Athens 2004 champions Italy came from two goals behind to beat Great Britain 11-7 in the play-off for 7th and 8th place.
– Great Britain held a 3-2 advantage at the end of the first quarter, but by midway through the second period, European champions Italy went in front and surged away for the win.
– Athens 2004 gold medallist Tania DI MARIO (ITA) scored her seventh and eighth penalty goals, plus two field goals, finishing with a grand total of 18.
– It was Great Britain's first Olympics and the quality of their play turned heads and heralded a new team in the top echelon of women's water polo.
Classification 5th & 6th – China v Russia
– China needed extra-time to beat Russia 16-15 in the play-off for the 5th and 6th place.
– The match was locked at 14-14 by full-time. China then scored a goal in each of the two extra three-minute periods and Russia only one to end their Olympics.
– MA Huanhuan (CHN) took her tally to a tournament-high 19 with six goals. Her fifth goal levelled the match to force extra-time. She fittingly scored the first of the extra-time goals for 15-14 in the first period. WANG Yi (CHN) scored her fourth to take the margin to 16-14 in the second period. Russia drew one back through Nadezhda FEDOTOVA 10 seconds from time.
Australia v Hungary – bronze medal match
– Australia survived a major mistake on the final buzzer before beating Hungary 13-11 in extra-time to win the women's bronze medal.
– Australian goalkeeper Alicia McCORMACK thought she was safe in holding the ball in the final 10 seconds when her team was 11-10 ahead, but Dora ANTAL (HUN) swam underwater to McCORMACK, surfaced, stole the ball and backhanded it into the goal in the final second to make it 11-11.
– Australian centre-forward Gemma BEADSWORTH scored a goal in each of the extra periods for the victory to repeat their Beijing 2008 effort, also over Hungary.
USA v Spain – gold medal match
– Maggie STEFFENS carved her name into Olympic history with a five-goal effort to lift the United States to an 8-5 gold medal win over Spain.
– The tournament's most valuable player proved that, at 19 years of age, she is the one to watch for the future, even though she already holds world cup and three world league crowns.
– For Brenda VILLA and Heather PETRI – one-goal scorers in the final – it was just reward for a lifetime's commitment and a special place in history with gold, two silvers and a bronze each from four Olympic Games.
– USA went 5-2 up at half-time and 7-2 at the final break, moving to 8-2 before Spain threw in the last three goals.
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