Italy's women came from behind to beat the United States 6-5 and reach the Olympic water polo final on Tuesday, with Manuela Zanchi slamming home the winning goal with two seconds of the semi-final left.
"The United States is the strongest team in the world," said Italian coach Pierluigi Formiconi, whose team will face either hosts Greece or champions Australia in Thursday's final.
"At that moment, the Italian team was the best in the world."
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Centre-back Cinzia Ragusa struck first for Italy in the sixth minute but Brenda Villa equalised in under 30 seconds.
The Americans had then led 4-2 early in the third quarter before Tania di Mario, who scored twice, and Giusy Malato gave Italy the edge with barely two minutes left.
In a dramatic finish, Ellen Estes equalised with just over a minute on the clock. But with extra-time looming, Zanchi blasted past goalkeeper Jacqueline Frank to put the Italians through.
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