WATER POLO Russia posts 9-7 win over American team



XATHENS, Greece -- Russia jumped out to a big lead and beat the United States 9-7 in an Olympic water polo match Saturday, forcing the Americans into a make-or-break situation for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Things started badly for the Americans when Revaz Chomakhidze scored after 20 seconds and paced Russia to a 3-0 advantage.
The teams played fairly evenly the rest of the half, with Layne Beaubien scoring four seconds from the break to cut the margin to 6-4.
Alexander Eryshov scored two goals in the third period, including a shot at the buzzer that gave the Russians an 8-4 cushion in the last quarter.
Wolf Wigo scored as the Americans put on the last three goals, but said the start was costly.
"It's possible to come back from 0-3, but it's extremely difficult against a team like Russia and we shouldn't have got into that situation," the U.S. captain said. "From then we had to play catch up and we ran out of time."
The Americans play Serbia-Montenegro in the last round of preliminaries on Monday. A loss would end their medal hopes.
World and Olympic champion Hungary, which had a 14-4 win over Kazakhstan, is 4-0 and assured of advancing regardless of the outcome of its last league match with Russia.
The Russians and Serbs are 3-1 and the Americans are 2-2 after back-to-back losses.
In earlier matches, Germany upset 1996 champion Spain 11-5, No. 2-ranked Italy beat Egypt 14-3 and Greece edged Australia 10-9 and all improved to 3-1.
Spain, which won back-to-back world championships in 1998 and 2001 and reached the semifinals in Sydney, is in danger of missing the next round.
"We're making lots of mistakes. One day we play well, the next day we're playing terrible," Spain coach Joan Jane said. "Now it's difficult [to advance]. We're relying on other scores, depending on other teams."
Women's quarterfinals are today. The world champion United States and Olympic gold medalist Australia get a break after finishing at the top of their groups in preliminaries.
Associated Press
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