The men’s Olympic soccer semifinals are now set with Spain, Brazil, and Mexico the three teams left alongside the home nation Japan in the hunt for the gold medal.
The Spanish needed a late equalizer and additional time before eventually blowing Ivory Coast absent in Rifu while the Mexicans thumped South Korea in Yokohama.
It used to be tougher going for the Brazilians who squeezed past Egypt by a unmarried goal in Saitama while it went all of the way to penalties for the Japanese against New Zealand in Kashima.
That sets up Mexico vs. Brazil at Kashima Stadium and Japan vs. Spain at the Saitama Stadium 2002 for a place in the last which will take place at International Stadium Yokohama.
Spain 5-2 Ivory Coast (AET) — Rifu
Japan 0-0 New Zealand (4-2 on penalties) — Kashima
Brazil 1-0 Egypt — Saitama
South Korea 3-6 Mexico — Yokohama
(You’ll take a look at the full schedule and results from the tournament here.)
Mexico vs. Brazil — Kashima
Japan vs. Spain — Saitama
Now, some takeaways from another round of unpredictable Olympic action.
Goal loopy Spain and Mexico
Between Spain and Mexico’s two quarterfinals, there were 16 goals to the one unmarried strike across Brazil and Japan’s games and La Rojita even needed additional time to in spite of everything put the Ivory Coast to bed.
Substitute Rafa Mir hit a hat-trick including a late, late equalizer to save Luis de la Fuente’s men before they blitzed Les Elephants in additional time.
Dani Olmo and Mikel Oyarzabal also scored for the Spanish as Eric Bailly and Max-Alain Gradel found the net for the Ivorians who found it a step too far beyond the 90-minute mark.
It used to be even more chaotic with El Tri who were pegged back once by South Korea before pulling absent with both Henry Martin and Sebastian Cordova scoring twice as Luis Romo and Eduardo Aguirre completed the scoring.
Lee Dong-gyeong hit a brace and Hwang Ui-jo used to be also on the right track as the Koreans scored three times but it used to be not enough to prevent their exit.
Having sent France home with an impressive 4-0 demolition, many expected Samurai Blue to breeze past New Zealand.
Then again, the OlyWhites were cussed and forced Hajime Moriyasu’s men during additional time to penalties where the stakes were high.
The hosts in the long run held their collective nerve and won 4-2 after Liberato Cacace and Clayton Lewis failed to transform from the spot.
It might not have been pretty, but it used to be effective, and the Japanese are now into the semifinals with three clean sheets from four outings.
The Selecao had Matheus Cunha to thank for their narrow victory over Egypt as the Pharaohs failed to score for the third time in four games.
Despite the fact that they were defensively sound, they were at all times unlikely to advance with precious little cutting edge in attack.
Additional time and penalties used to be at all times their best bet to go through and only losing by one goal illustrates how near they were to implementing that game plan.
In the end, though, Brazil’s superior squad shone through and now they are going to come up against Japan in the semis.
Golden boot race
Richarlison remains in the lead with five goals as Ui-jo just exited with the Koreans after notching his fourth with France’s Andre-Pierre Gignac also gone, but he still teed up Cunha’s winner against Egypt.
Mir’s Spain heroics have moved him up to three goals alongside Takefusa Kubo and the Mexican twosome of Martin and Cordova.
Unless someone else goes on a major tear over the semfinals and last, the Brazilian is likely to end up being crowned top scorer.