Hungary goaltender Viktor Nagy held his fingers to his lips, and the crowd responded with a loud round of boos. Brazil was looking to win Group A in the Olympic men’s water polo tournament. Australia was hoping to sneak into the quarterfinals. Nagy had other ideas. Nagy made 12 saves, and Hungary beat Brazil 10-6 on Sunday to remain the only unbeaten team in the competition.
“That’s his standard. When he is in good form, he is the best goalie in the world,” Hungary driver Daniel Varga said. “I think in the last three games if he shows this performance we got a chance to win (the) Olympic Games.”
Hungary improved to 2-0-3 for a Group A-best seven points. Spain played to a 9-9 draw with Montenegro earlier in the day and topped Group B with seven points.
Hungary and Montenegro will face off in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, and Spain will play world champion Serbia. Greece takes on Italy, and Brazil meets Croatia in the most intriguing matchup of the next round. Brazil coach Ratko Rudic guided Croatia to gold at the 2012 London Games.
“It’s not important who it will be in the quarterfinal,” Rudic said. “Here all the teams are really strong, and we know very well all the teams.”
Nagy, drawing the ire of the raucous crowd with his animated intensity, helped Hungary get off to a fast start with his focused performance in net. Gustavo Guimaraes’ penalty shot with 2:04 left in the second was Brazil’s first goal, but it was 5-1 Hungary at the break.
Australia was eliminated with Hungary’s win. It finished ninth, followed by the United States, France and Japan.
Rhys Howden and John Cotterill each scored three goals to help Australia beat Greece 12-7 in their final group game, and the United States beat Italy 10-7 in its final game in Rio de Janeiro.
U.S. captain Tony Azevedo, goaltender Merrill Moses and defender Jesse Smith were pulled with nine seconds left and waved to friends and family in the stands in what might have been the final Olympic appearance for the American mainstays.
Australia bounced back nicely from its 10-8 loss to Serbia on Friday, posting its highest scoring game of the tournament. It also was the most goals allowed by Greece, which had already secured a spot in the quarterfinals.
“I’m very proud of the boys today,” Howden said. “We came out and gave it everything we had.”
Moses, a three-time Olympian who turned 39 on Saturday, said it was his last game, but Smith and Azevedo were non-committal. Azevedo scored twice against Italy and finished with five goals in his fifth Olympics, a record for USA Water Polo.
“Right now I’m just pretty depressed,” said Azevedo, who turns 35 in November. “I’m going to take off tomorrow, go home, spend all day at the beach first and then go home, and finish my professional career here in Brazil. I’ll be back in two weeks, and then I’ll decide what I’m going to do in the future.”
Smith, a four-time Olympian, would only say it was the last game of this tournament, but sounded as if he felt this was it.
“I’m really glad we went out on a win,” the 33-year-old Smith said. “I think it’s great for the young guys to go on a win so that I think that they’re going to have a great chance in 2020.”
Azevedo, Moses and Smith helped the U.S. win silver in Beijing, but the team finished eighth in London in 2012 and then flopped in Rio. It lost three of its first four games to lose out on any chance of matching its performance from four years ago.
But the Americans managed to put together a strong finish, despite playing without Alex Roelse, Alex Bowen and assistant coach Jack Kocur due to a trio of suspensions coming out of Friday’s 8-5 loss to Montenegro. Moses made six saves while playing most of the second half in relief of McQuin Baron, the likely starter for Tokyo.
“It’s unfortunate how the tournament ended up,” Moses said. “But I know that we gave it our all and I look forward to the bright future of this young team.”
Also Sunday, France beat Croatia 9-8 for its first victory of the Olympics, and Serbia surged to a 12-8 victory over Japan.
Serbia trailed 5-2 after one, but Filip Filipovic scored four of his six goals in the second half as the world champions rallied for their second straight victory.
“We started bad and we suffered a lot in the first 15 minutes,” Serbia driver Andrija Prlainovic said, “but again we managed to win.”