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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | SPORT-BY-SPORT REPORT : WATER
POLO

Spain Finally Breaks Down Croatians

July 29, 1996|Times Wire Services

Experience paid off for Spain, which got three goals from five-time Olympian Manuel Estiarte in a 7-5 victory over Croatia in the gold-medal game in water polo.

Croatia, playing as a separate nation in its first Games, played strong defense early, limiting Spain to one goal through the first two quarters, that by Estiarte, 35, in the second.

But Spanish goalkeeper Jesus Rollan kept his team in the game with strong saves, and Spain began to find cracks in the Croatian defense in the third quarter, taking a 5-4 lead. Croatian captain Perica Bukic tied the score, 5-5, with 21 seconds to play.

Pedro Garcia scored early in the final quarter and a spectacular backhand goal by Jordi Sans, his second of the game, gave Spain a 7-5 lead with 4:55 left.

Spanish players and Coach Juan Jane, who dived into the pool, celebrated wildly. Spain took the silver medal at home in Barcelona four years ago.

Croatia's coach, Bruno Silic, watched from the stands on Sunday because of a one-match suspension.

Italy, which won the gold medal four years ago but was upset this time by Croatia in the semifinals, took the bronze this time when it beat Hungary, a six-time champion, 20-18, in a wild game that went to overtime.

The Italians had come back from a 13-9 deficit to take a lead on Alberto Angelini's third goal of the game, scored with 50 seconds to play in regulation.

Hungary turned the ball over in its last attack, and as the final seconds ticked away, the Italians began to celebrate. Thinking the game was over, some Italian bench players dived into the pool.

But there were still two seconds on the game clock, and Hungary was given a penalty shot that Balazs Vincze made to tie the game.

Amedeo Pomilio scored three of his four goals in overtime to clinch the Italian victory.

Russia took fifth place by beating Greece, 10-8, and the United States was seventh, scoring five goals in the second period to open a comfortable lead and coasting home with a 12-8 victory over Yugoslavia.

Chris Oeding of Newport Beach scored three goals for the United States.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

MEDALISTS / Water Polo

MEN

Gold: Spain

Silver: Croatia

Bronze: Italy

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