COVENTRY: Japan and Honduras advanced to the quarter-finals of the men’s Olympic football tournament as Group D winners and runners-up respectively by playing out a 0-0 draw in Coventry.
The Samurai Blue, who had already been assured of a place in the knockout phase having won their first two matches, will now take on Egypt in Manchester for a place in the last four, while Los Catrachos meet Brazil in Newcastle.
The first 35 minutes were heavy on fierce tackles and shy on goalmouth action. Yuki Otsu had Japan’s best chance, but his shot from distance went straight at goalkeeper Jose Mendoza, while Antony Lozano fired well wide from 35 metres following a neat dribble.
The finest opportunity of the first half came with six minutes remaining.
Johnny Leveron dinked a delightful ball over the top for Jerry Bengtson, who jumped and, with his chest, brilliantly pushed it past two opponents and into his stride. The Honduras No11 unleashed a low shot, but Shuichi Gonda flung himself south-east to repel the effort, before bravely diving on the loose ball as Mario Martinez loomed.
Japan began the second half in the asendancy, yet they failed to come close to breaking the deadlock until the 81st minute, when a mishit Takashi Usami free-kick almost dipped under the crossbar, only for Jose Mendoza to punch it over.
The Honduras keeper then made an excellent save to deny substitute Kensuke Nagai from close range, before making a fine catch from a powerful Kazuya Yamamura header in the last minute.
The result left Japan on seven points and Honduras on five, three clear of third-placed Morocco.
Morocco 0 Spain 0
MANCHESTER: Morocco and Spain concluded their 2012 Olympic campaigns with a 0-0 stalemate in their final Group D match at Old Trafford.
The result meant La Roja finished the tournament without scoring a goal and bottom of the section, while the African side had to settle for third place behind Japan and Honduras.
Following the same pattern as their previous two games at the tournament, Spain began the match slowly and it was Morocco, aware that victory was necessary to have any chance of progression, who were brightest during the early exchanges.
Noureddine Amrabat attempted an audacious free-kick from distance which swerved wide of David de Gea’s post after ten minutes and, shortly before the half-hour mark, the north Africans created their best opportunity of the opening period.
A swift counter-attack provided space down their right wing and when the ball was delivered into the Spanish penalty box, Abdelaziz Barrada was waiting at the back post. The midfielder, who plays in Spain with Getafe, dragged his shot wide of De Gea’s goal, however.
Spain were forced to respond and, woken from their slumber, they went even closer four minutes later. Neat approach play from Juan Mata allowed Adrian Lopez to run clear of the Moroccan defence but the Atletico Madrid forward’s effort cannoned back off the post.
With the Manchester rain beginning to fall heavily, Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu tried his luck from the edge of the box but his drive drifted wide and signalled the half-time whistle with the score goalless.
Amrabat remained Morocco’s main source of inspiration in the second half, first trying to lob De Gea two minutes after the restart before, on the hour, playing in Barrada, who was denied by the Spanish ‘keeper.
Luis Milla’s Spain team took time to gain a foothold again but when they did, Adrian should have put them in front. Finding himself one-on-one with Morocco ‘keeper Mohamed Amsif after 69 minutes, the striker inexplicably sent a tame effort dribbling away from the target.
Both sides remained committed to gaining a winning goal in what remained of their tournament and the last chance fell to Adrian again, but on this occasion his shot was saved well by Amsif.
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