Russia shock Brazil in Olympic volleyball final (PHOTOS)
Russia entered their only team sports’ decider in the British capital as underdogs after being thrashed three sets to love by the Brazilians in the group stages.
And it seemed Vladimir Alekno’s charges would not be able to find the keys to the Latin Americans’ play in the decider either.
The Brazilians looked heading for the win after dominating two of the opening sets and serving for the match in the third.
But Russia showed great character to save the set at 29-27, which became a serious blow for their opponents.
Dmitry Musersky, who spent the whole Olympic tournament in the shade, became the man who turned the final upside down by netting an impressive 31 points.
The Russians leveled the score in the match by claiming the fourth set – and they couldn’t be stopped in the decider, claiming a 3-2 (19-25 20-25 29-27 25-22 15-9) victory.
“I’m delighted,” Musersky told Interfax. “When you play against Brazil, even a small gap puts you under serious pressure. Today, our opponents won the very first point – and then we had a really hard time. Especially since the Brazilians were playing very fast."
"I don’t think it was my most successful game ever,” the 23-year-old added. “I can play better and score more points during five sets. But today, the team really believed in me. We had one last chance and we took advantage of it."
Russia have climbed the podium at the fourth Olympics in a row after the silver in Sydney 2000 and bronze in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.
The last time the country’s athletes took the Olympic gold was back in Soviet times at their home Games in Moscow 1980.
Meanwhile, the bronze medals went to Italy, who topped Bulgaria 3-1 (25-19 23-25 25-22 25-21) in the match for third place.
Alexey Obmochaev and Sergey Tetyukhin.(AFP Photo / Kirill Kudryavtsev)
Russia's team celebrate winning their men's gold medal volleyball match against Brazil at Earls Court during the London 2012 Olympic Games.(REUTERS / Dominic Ebenbichler)
Russia's Sergey Grankin (bottom) sets the ball as Alexander Volkov (top R) and Maxim Mikhaylov.(REUTERS / Olivia Harris)
Russia's Dmitriy Muserskiy (R) spikes the ball past Brazil's Lucas Saatkamp.(AFP Photo / Alberto Pizzoli)
Russia players celebrate with their gold medals during the victory ceremony for the men's volleyball competition at Earls Court during the London 2012 Olympic Games.(REUTERS / Ivan Alvarado)