ATHENS -- The United States fell out of medal contention in Olympic water polo yesterday as Aleksander Sapic scored three goals to lead Serbia-Montenegro to a 9-4 win over the Americans.
The Serbians, bronze medalists in Sydney, improved to 4-1 and advanced to the next round along with defending champion Hungary (5-0) and 2000 silver medalist Russia (3-2) from Group A. Top-ranked Hungary edged Russia, 7-6, earlier yesterday to secure an automatic semifinal spot.
The Americans finished 2-3, losing three straight after opening with wins against Croatia and Kazakhstan. The US, sixth at Sydney, now goes into classification games to determine seventh through 12th places.
The Serbians took control of the game early, with Aleksandar Ciric scoring after just 39 seconds on an extra-man chance. Danilo Ikodinovic made it 2-0.
Sapic scored twice in the third period, against one goal from US captain Wolf Wigo, to give the Serbians a 7-3 lead going into the last quarter.
The Serbian driver got his third with 4:55 to go, giving the Serbians a five-goal cushion.
Gergely Kiss scored twice within 35 seconds in the third period to set up Hungary's win over Russia.
"We are very happy. This group was tough, so we're very satisfied with five victories," said Hungarian coach Denes Kemeny. "For us, the Olympic Games start now. We are now one of four favorites."
In the other bracket, Marc Torsten Politze and Heiko Nossek scored two goals apiece, and Germany (3-1-1) rallied for a tie with Australia to secure a place in the medal round.
Salvador Gomez and Gabriel Hernandez scored three times each as Spain kept its chance of advancing alive with a 12-4 win over Egypt.