World champions US women’s waterpolo team won a spot in the Olympic semi-finals by overwhelming home team Brazil on Monday, prevailing 13-3 and moving a step closer to defending their London Games title.

In today’s semi-finals, the US will face Hungary, who edged out Australia by winning a penalty shoot-out following an 8-8 draw.

Russia’s women advanced with a 12-10 win over Spain and will next face Italy, who reached the last four with a 12-7 victory over China.

The United States and Italy are the only women’s teams yet to lose in the tournament but it was the US line-up that produced the most dominant display as they lived up to their status as gold medal favourites.

After three US wins in the group round, where the team beat Spain, China and Hungary, they faced their easiest game yet against Brazil.

Californian Makenzie Fischer, 19, helped to lead the charge with two goals, and was one of eight US players to score in the first half without reply.

“Everyone is ready to step up and take a shot,” Fischer said.

The US may face a tougher opponent in their next game.

Hungary came back from a 5-3 first-half deficit against Australia, to even the score in the last quarter and go on to win a tense penalty shoot-out.

Team USA won gold at the 2012 London Games and have clinched a spot on the podium at every Games since women’s waterpolo was added to the Olympics in 2000. The women’s gold medal match is set for Friday.

Waterpolo teams have faced some unexpected challenges in Rio. Controversy erupted over the outdoor pool conditions last week after some players complained about over-chlorination that stung their eyes.

But play has now moved to the indoor pool stadium that hosted swimming events, where there have been no complaints.

Men’s quarter-finals
Hungary vs Montenegro - 11-13
Serbia vs Spain - 10-7
Brazil vs Croatia - 6-10
Greece vs Italy - 5-9


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