By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Wednesday, August 10th, in a must-win game, Brazil’s men’s national football (soccer) team defeated Denmark 4-0 to move forward in the 2016 Rio Olympics football competition. A loss would have meant a humiliating early exit for the host country team that many expect to finally win the one prize that has always eluded them, the Olympic gold medal.
The talented club, led by international sensation Neymar, were booed off the field in its first two scoreless draws. With their backs against the wall and needing a win on Thursday, the team finally found its scoring touch with Santos forward Gabriel Barbosa (Gabigol) scoring twice, along with Grêmio forward Luan and new Manchester City signing Gabriel Jesus each contributing with goals of their own.
Brazil was aggressive throughout the match, putting the pressure on Denmark from the opening whistle. Gabigol scored his first of the night, punching in a close-range shot at the 26-minute mark. The goal broke the seleção’s streak of two hundred minutes of Olympic play without a goal. Gabriel Jesus added to the lead off a perfect cross from Luan at the 40th minute.
Minutes into the second half, a beautiful sequence of passing from Neymar and Douglas Santos led to Luan finding the back of the net for the team’s third goal. Gabigol would score his second of the night at the 80th minute completing the decisive 4-O victory.
With the win, Brazil sits atop Group A and advances to the quarterfinals against Columbia in São Paulo on Saturday, August 13th. Despite the loss, Denmark also advances to play Nigeria, winner of Group B, on Saturday.
Closing out group action on Wednesday, German striker Nils Peterson scored five times as Germany trounced Fiji 10×0 to move on to next round. But, Germany were edged out of the top Group C spot by South Korea, who narrowly defeated Mexico 1×0. The loss signals the end of Mexico’s hopes to repeat as Olympic champions, having beaten Brazil for the gold medal in the 2012 London Games.
The quest for gold also ends for Argentina, gold medal winners in 2004 and 2008. The team was eliminated following a 1×1 draw with Honduras that left the team in third position in Group D.