NEWCASTLE: Internacional striker Leandro Damiao inspired ten-man Brazil to a comfortable Group C victory over New Zealand to send them into the quarter-finals with a 100 per cent Group C record in pursuit of their first Olympic gold medal.
The 23-year-old set up midfielder Danilo to open the scoring and then claimed his second of the tournament before the break, with Tottenham Hotspur’s Sandro adding a third in the second half to cement the win, which will see his side return to St James’ Park on Saturday evening.
Brazil went ahead with 23 minutes gone when Danilo played a one-two with Damiao before surging into the box and lifting the ball over goalkeeper Michael O’Keeffe.
The South Americans were simply irresistible, and they extended their lead within six minutes when Alex Sandro ran on to an audacious back-heel by left-back Marcelo and squared for Damiao to tap home.
Sandro put the result beyond doubt within seven minutes of the restart when, after substitute Tim Myers had been penalised for a foul on Damiao, Marcelo curled the resulting free-kick to the far post for the Spurs midfielder to fire home.
Neymar should have made it 4-0 within two minutes, only to sky over an empty goal from Rafael de Silva’s cross, but Alex Sandro’s afternoon took a turn for the worse 15 minutes from time when, having been booked earlier for a foul, he was yellow carded for a second time for diving.
Egypt 3 Belarus 1
GLASGOW: Egypt have cruised to a 3-1 win over Belarus at Glasgow’s Hampden Park to set up a quarter-final clash with either Japan or Honduras at Old Trafford.
Three goals in the space of 15 second-half minutes from Mohamed Salah, Marwan Mohsen and Mohamed Aboutrika gave the Pharaohs a well-deserved victory and enabled them to leapfrog their eastern European opponents into second place in Group C.
Though Egypt were eventually able to enjoy their route to the last eight with a degree of comfort, that didn’t look likely during a tense first half in which they struggled to break through Belarus’ massed defensive ranks.
Arguably their best chance came ten minutes from the break when Salah’s pace saw him break through on goal and force an alert near-post save from the agile Aleksandr Gutor.
Attempting to find the speedy Salah with long balls over the top was clearly a key part of the Egyptians’ gameplan, and this tactic paid off 11 minutes into the second half when the FC Basel winger broke the deadlock.
Again his pace proved too much for the Belarus defence and, having held off his pursuers, the 20-year-old slotted a left-footed shot low into the bottom left-hand corner.
That was the signal for the floodgates to open, and the Pharaohs doubled their lead when Mohsen side-footed home first-time from Eslam Ramadan’s inch-perfect left-footed cross.
There was no way back for the Belarussians now, and the noisy Egyptian supporters had even more cause to cheer when national hero Aboutrika tapped into the unguarded net from Omar Gaber’s unselfish centre.
Belarus went on to grab a late consolation through a powerful downward header from substitute Andrei Voronkov, but they head for home and must watch from the sidelines as Egypt’s London 2012 adventure continues into the quarter-finals.
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