Brazil on brink of more home humiliation
BRAZIL face another embarrassing exit from a major football tournament on home soil after Neymar slumbered through a second 0-0 draw of Rio 2016 against Iraq.
The Olympic hosts now need to beat group leaders Denmark tomorrow to win to avoid a stunning exit, just two years after their devastating 7-1 World Cup defeat by Germany.
Neymar was expected to ease Brazilian football’s wounded pride by delivering a first-ever Olympic gold for the five-time world champions.
However, the Barcelona star has so far failed to deliver, and just as in their opening draw against South Africa, Brazil were booed from the field in Brasilia on August 7.
Portugal and Nigeria were the first sides to seal their places in the quarterfinals with victories over Honduras and Sweden respectively. There were also wins for Argentina, Denmark and Mexico.
In contrast to his display against South Africa when he was labelled “greedy”, Neymar was a peripheral presence against Iraq, and even once lost his cool, firing the ball at Sherko Kareem in the second half as the Iraqi prevented him from taking a quick free-kick.
Manchester City’s £27 million (US$36 million) signing Gabriel Jesus also had a forgettable night. After claiming he “wouldn’t sleep” after missing an open goal against the South Africans, he skewed a golden chance wide inside two minutes before being taken off by coach Rogerio Micale early in the second half.
Iraq nearly had a shock win when Mohanad Abdulraheem’s first half header came back off the inside of the post.
Renato Augusto had Brazil’s best chance when he shot over the gaping goal deep into seven minutes of stoppage time.
Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan waived away strong claims for a penalty moments later when Gabriel Barbosa tumbled inside the area.
Atletico Madrid’s Angel Correa scored and set up Jonathan Calleri’s winner as 10-man Argentina got their challenge for a third Olympic gold back on track with a 2-1 win over Algeria in Rio.
Argentina coach Julio Olarticoechea was put in charge for the Games just weeks before their opening 2-0 defeat to Portugal. Olarticoechea took over from Gerardo Martino who quit after a second Copa America final defeat to Chile in as many years.
Olarticoechea’s options were slashed by a number of high-profile pullouts and European clubs not releasing their players so close to the start of the season.
However, it was Calleri, called in at the last minute to replace Luciano Vietto, who bundled home the winner 20 minutes from time.
Argentina still need to beat Honduras in their final Group D game tomorrow to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Portugal are assured of their place in the last eight after beating Honduras 2-1.
World champions Germany also dug themselves out of trouble as a stoppage-time equaliser from Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry salvaged a thrilling 3-3 draw against South Korea in Salvador.
Germany lie in third place in Group C, two points behind Mexico and South Korea.
They face the prospect of having to beat Fiji by at least four goals in their final group game to progress, if South Korea’s final match with Mexico also ends in a draw.
Fiji benefited from New Zealand’s disqualification for fielding an ineligible player to qualify for the Olympics at last year’s Pacific Games. They were thrashed 8-0 by South Korea on their debut on August 4, but managed to lead Mexico 1-0 at half-time thanks to Roy Krishna’s opener. Defending champions Mexico benefited from a second-half surge on the part of Erick Gutierrez, who struck four times to bring the defending champions a 5-1 victory and avoid one of the biggest shocks in Olympic football history.
Colombia hold a one-point advantage over Japan and Sweden in the fight for second place after their second 2-2 draw against Japan in the Amazonian city of Manaus. – And she’s through! San Yu Htwe overcame a difficult 51st ranking in the women’s individual head-tohead tournament yesterday, first beating Finland’s Taru Kuoppa (ranked 14) 7-3 in the round of 64, followed by a 7-3 victory over USA’s Mackenzie Brown (ranked 19) in the round of 32. Her next test: the round of 16, set for 7:22pm MMT on August 11.
Archery – women’s individual
Ye Tun Naung, Myanmar’s only qualifying Olympic athlete, will have his last chance for a medal tomorrow in the men’s 50m pistol. Ye Tun Naung failed to qualify for the finals in the men’s 10m air pistol on August 6-7 after shooting a 572 in the qualifying round, good for 33rd. The event was won by Hoang Xuan Vinh, Vietnam’s first-ever Olympic gold medallist, while Brazil’s Felipe Wu earned silver and China’s Pang Wei bronze. The 50m pistol event begins at 6:30pm MMT, with the final slated for 9:30pm.