GB men come unstuck against Norway
8:33am Sunday 16th February 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Great Britain's men's curling team missed the chance to guarantee qualification through to the semi-finals of the Winter Olympics following a 7-6 defeat by Norway in Sochi.
David Murdoch's all-Scottish rink went into their penultimate round-robin match in the Ice Cube Curling Center with five wins and two defeats, knowing victory over their nearest challengers would secure a medal opportunity.
It was win or bust for Norway as GB conceded a 2-0 second-end lead to play catch-up for most of the game, levelling 6-6 with the hammer in the ninth only to lose out in the final end.
That leaves their last fixture against China possibly crucial, with Norway - who have two games remaining against Switzerland and Denmark - still a threat.
Murdoch remained defiantly optimistic, saying: -" I fancy our chances, I really do", after round-robin session 10 ended with Sweden guaranteeing their semi-final berth by beating Russia 8-4 and Canada also unable to miss out.
China are in second place with six wins and one defeat, followed by Canada, who have six wins and two defeats.
Even if the Canadians lose their last game - to the Chinese in the evening session - the worst they could finish is tied at 6-3 with Norway and Team GB, and they would qualify on a superior head-to-head record.
To add to a complicated scenario, Britain could fail to beat China and still get a play-off spot should Norway falter twice, although a win for Murdoch's men would guarantee a play-off spot at least.
The Scot admits he is going about winning an Olympic medal at the third time of asking "the hardest way possible", but remains positive.
"It is still in our own hands, we can't let that defeat affect us too much," Murdoch said.
"It is still possible. It would have been nice to get that win today and secure that play-off but you have to move on.
"We could have been more clinical today and could have been in front earlier. We had them on the ropes a little bit and never took our chances.
"Thomas Ulsrud (Norway skip) played an incredible shot with his last in end four or we were getting a handful in that end.
"But we played some good stuff in the first five and played some decent stuff in the last five as well.
"We have a good record against the Chinese team. Obviously they are playing well, but so are we.
"We have lost a couple of games only by a few inches and we need to take the positives from that."
Murdoch insists two previous Olympic disappointments have had no bearing this week.
"It is not something that you think about," he said. "You are very focused out there and you have objectives and so many other things to think about, you don't even think about past Olympic campaigns.
"That is something to reflect on at the end. We have to make sure we win tomorrow and if we do that we are still in."
Haavard Vad Petersson, who won a silver with Norway at the Vancouver Games in 2010, was delighted to leave the morning session with qualification hopes still intact.
"It was one of the most important games of our career," he said. "We had to win this one to stay alive.
"This is the Olympics, we don't want to lose. We have won a medal before but we want to get gold.
"We need probably two more wins, depending on the other games. One might do, for a tiebreaker."