RIO DE JANEIRO: Portugal secured their second win of the men’s Olympic tournament and secured progress from Group D after recovering for a 2-1 win over Honduras in the Estadio Olimpico.
Alberth Elis opened the scoring for Los Catrachos after only 30 seconds but Tobias Figueiredo and Goncalo Paciencia turned the match around before half-time.
A remarkable opening to the game saw Honduras stun the vast majority of those backing Portugal in the stadium into silence. Direct play down the left hand side by Romell Quioto saw the No12 cross for Elis to fire home.
That equalled Oribe Peralta’s record in the 2012 gold medal match as the fastest goal in the men’s tournament.
Coach Jorge Luis Pinto’s side dropped deeper, in an effort to consolidate their position. But it proved a mistake. A short corner from the Portuguese right was worked to Sergio Oliveira, whose deep cross was headed home by Figueiredo.
Portugal then had a remarkable chance to take the lead, with Salvador Agra’s touch too heavy in attempting to round Luis Lopez, having found himself one-on-one with the Honduras goalkeeper after springing the offside trap.
The Hondurans did not heed that warning and soon fell behind. A shot by Bruno Fernandes from the edge of the penalty area was deflected into the path of Paciencia who scored with ease.
Rui Jorge’s side were even more determined to impose themselves after the break, with a succession of quickfire shots peppering down on Lopez’s goal, before Paciencia’s final effort was smartly stopped by the Honduran No1.
Los Catrachos’ stopper was then on hand to save Allans Vargas from embarrassment, tipping wide a header from his own defender which seemed destined for the bottom corner.
Argentina march on
Also in Rio, Argentina saw off a resilient Algeria 2-1.
Angel Correa put La Albiceleste – then at a one man disadvantage thanks to Victor Cuesta’s red card – in front moments after the break, before Sofiane Bendebka equalised just after the hour mark. Ayoub Abdellaoui then levelled the playing field by picking up his second booking, with Jonathan Calleri grabbing Argentina’s winner minutes later.
Despite Argentina having much of the opening exchanges in a rather low-tempo first half, it was Algeria who had the standout chance of the first period. Baghdad Bounedjah was sent clear by substitute Mohammed Benkhemassa, with the Algeria No7 finding himself one-on-one with Geronimo Rulli. The forward tried to loft the ball over the Argentinian keeper, but Rulli was equal to the effort.
Seconds before the half-time whistle, Argentina captain Cuesta received a second booking for hauling down Bounedjah and was dismissed.
Any hopes that Algeria would immediately capitalise on the man advantage were dashed just after the interval. A hopeful long ball upfield was flicked on by a combination of Jonathan Calleri and his marker, with Correa racing onto the loose ball and calmly hitting a left-footed shot past Chaal.
With Argentina looking in control, Mohammed Benkablia was teed up by Bendebka, with the No9 firing wide. Bendebka would not be so wasteful moments later. The NA Hussein Day midfielder sprung the offside trap and calmly slotted past Rulli to stun La Albiceleste.
Algeria were their own worst enemy minutes later, with Ayoub Abdellaoui sent off for collecting his second yellow card after catching Cristian Pavon with a high boot. With Les Verts reorganising their defence, Julio Olarticoechea’s side pounced.
Giovanni Lo Celso worked the ball down the Argentinian left, finding Calleri on the edge of the Algerian box. The forward exchanged passes with Correa, before lifting the ball over the onrushing Chaal.
Despite Pavon hitting the post late on, neither side troubled the scorers again, with the result eliminating Algeria and sending Portugal through to the last eight. Argentina face Honduras in a winner-takes-all clash for second place in Group D on Wednesday.