Monday 08 August 2016, 08:04

Heat on the hosts as Portugal and Nigeria go through

THE DAY REPLAYED – The Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016 is proving to be a closely contested affair, with Portugal and Nigeria the only sides so far to make sure of their places in the last eight, and Fiji and Algeria the only teams who are already out of the competition. For the other 12 nations in the running, there is still much to play for after Sunday’s eight games, with powerhouses such as Germany and Argentina remaining firmly in contention for last-eight places, as are hosts Brazil, who again failed to convince despite their attacking riches.

Results Group A Denmark 1-0 South Africa Brazil 0-0 Iraq

Group B Sweden 0-1 Nigeria Japan 2-2 Colombia

Group C Fiji 1-5 Mexico Germany 3-3 Korea Republic

Group D Honduras 1-2 Portugal Argentina 2-1 Algeria

Goal of the day Japan 2-2 Colombia, Shoya Nakajima 74 Trailing 2-1 in Manaus with 16 minutes remaining, Japan were staring elimination in the face when the FC Tokyo midfielder produced something special to rekindle their qualification hopes. Picking up possession outside the Colombian box, Nakajima curled an exquisite right-foot shot over experienced Cafetero keeper Cristian Bonilla and in off the underside of the bar. Having gone 2-0 down, the stunning strike completed a deserved comeback for the tireless Japanese, whose opening goal had come from rising star Takuma Asano just seven minutes earlier.

Memorable moments*Fiji get on the scoreboard* There were ten minutes on the clock in the day’s first game at the Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador when Fiji’s Iosefo Verevou curled a long ball right on to the head of captain Roy Krishna, whose header looped over Mexican keeper Alfredo Talavera and into the back of the net. In giving his side an early lead, Krishna had the honour of scoring his country’s first ever goal at the Games. Having already told just how much the Olympics means to his country, the Fiji skipper now has another wonderful story to tell.

Because when you score one you’ll get more Mexico midfielder Erick Gutierrez opened his international goalscoring account in some style on Sunday. Not content will pulling his side level against the Fijians just after half-time, the 21-year-old Pachuca prospect went on to complete a hat-trick in the next ten minutes and later took his tally to four, matching Nigeria’s Oghenekaro Etebo, who ran the Japanese defence ragged on the opening matchday.

Drama and goals at the Fonte Nova The setting for some memorable encounters at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, the Fonte Nova saw another on Sunday, as Germany and Republic of Korea served up a thriller, with both sides coming from behind to take the lead ahead of a dramatic finale. Leading 3-2 in the closing seconds, the South Koreans had the chance to seal the points on the counter but failed to take it. Moments later the Germans were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box. Stepping forward to take it, Serge Gnabry saw his shot deflect off the wall and past the stranded Kim Dongjun in the South Korean goal, reviving Germany’s qualification hopes in the process.

Magical memories Honduras coach Jorge Luis Pinto came over all emotional following his side’s defeat to Portugal, though his reaction had nothing to do with his side’s brave performance. On being asked about his relationship with the host nation, Pinto struggled to hold back the tears. “I have wonderful memories of Brazil and the team I supported at the 1974, 1978 and 1982 World Cups,” said the Colombian, the man responsible for Costa Rica’s historic campaign at the Brazil 2014 World Cup. “I’ve always been very happy to be here. I like competing in a country like this, where the football is so wonderful and amazing.”

The words “I knew I had to work to make up for that error . I knew the team was in good shape and that we’d get it right this time. I always work hard to achieve big things and I had no doubts it would pan out well for me today.” Argentina goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli 

Next matchday *Wednesday 10 August (all times local)

  • Group A Denmark-Brazil, 22:00 South Africa-Iraq, 22:00

    Group B Colombia-Nigeria, 19:00 Japan-Sweden,19:00

    Group C Germany-Fiji, 16:00 Korea Republic-Mexico, 16:00

    Group D Algeria-Portugal, 13:00 Argentina-Honduras, 13:00