By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Wednesday, August 17th, at Maracanã Stadium, the Seleção (Brazilian national team) dominated Honduras for the 6×0 victory in the semifinals of the 2016 Rio Olympics men’s football (soccer) competition. Following Germany’s 2×0 victory over Nigeria in the other semifinal, the two countries will square off in the gold medal game on Saturday, August 20th.
The much anticipated final gives a Brazil a chance to not only win its first ever gold medal, but also extract some measure of redemption for its humiliating 7×1 loss to Germany in the World Cup two years ago.
Wednesday’s semifinal against Honduras could not have started any better for the host country. After just fifteen seconds, superstar Neymar stole the ball in Honduras territory and quickly scored past the oncoming goalkeeper. The goal set the record for the fastest in Olympic history.
Brazilian fans were given a scare as Neymar had to be stretchered off the field after awkwardly falling while scoring the history-making goal. However, he returned to the field just a few minutes later and would make his impact felt the rest of the game.
Manchester City’s new £$27 million ($36 million) signing, nineteen-year-old Gabriel Jesus, doubled Brazil’s lead at the 26th minute. The young athlete scored his second goal of the match nine minutes later, as he received a pass from Neymar and blasted the ball home to make it 3×0 before the half.
Marquinhos and Luan would add two more goals for Brazil in the second half before Neymar would fittingly cap off the game with his second goal, a penalty kick, in stoppage time completing the 6xO dismantling.
After the game, Brazil coach Rogerio Micale, was ecstatic about his team’s dominant performance, particularly from the team captain. “Neymar is a monster. He has the gift of playing football, he delights everyone with his talent,” said coach Micale.
Germany was almost as impressive in the second semifinal of the day, dispatching Nigeria 2×0 setting up Saturday’s gold medal game, a match that Brazil fans have been waiting for since 2014.
As the Olympics football tournament features largely players under the age of 23, most of the cast of characters differs from the 2014 World Cup, most notably Neymar, who missed the 7×1 World Cup humiliation as he suffered two broken vertebrae in his back during the quarterfinals.