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South Korea, Brazil and Japan put in convincing performances.
Men’s football saw a couple of upsets on the last day of group stage fixtures at the Tokyo Olympics. While France suffered a 4-0 loss at the hands of Japan, Argentina and Germany drew their last matches to leave Tokyo early. South Korea, Egypt, Mexico, and Brazil pulled off the best possible outcome to qualify for the quarter-finals. As many as 23 goals were scored across seven games with Romania vs New Zealand ending in a goalless draw.
Japan, Mexico, South Korea, New Zealand, Spain, Egypt, Brazil and Ivory Coast are the eight teams that have qualified for the knockouts. Argentina, France and Germany made surprise exits from the group stage. Here are key talking points from the final day of the group stages in the Tokyo Olympics men’s football event.
Hwang Ui-jo hat-trick sees South Korea thrash Honduras
South Korea continued their impressive run at the Olympics, beating Honduras 6-0 in their last group match. It was Bordeaux forward Hwang Ui-jo, who rose to the occasion and scored a hat-trick. Hwang scored three goals, including two penalties, while Won Du-Jae’s penalty and two open play goals from Lee Kang-in and Kim Jin-ya helped seal the big win.
Honduras went down to 10-men in the 39th minute and lost the match from there. Carlos Melendez’s harsh foul on the last man resulted in a straight red, as the Koreans added a third in the first half. Valencia’s Lee continued to be an effective substitute for Korea and netted a goal after coming on in the second half.
South Korea qualified to the next round as group toppers, whereas Honduras return home despite collecting three points in Tokyo Olympics men’s football.
Brazil beat Saudi Arabia to qualify comfortably
Proceedings in Group D were complex, with both Brazil and Germany requiring wins to go through. The South American super-giants did what was required of them, beating Saudi Arabia 3-1 with a brace from Richarlison.
After leading from Matheus Cunha’s header in the 14th minute, Abdulelah Al-Amri’s set-piece header denied the Selecao from going into half-time with a two-goal lead. However, the Saudis’ resistance broke after the 70-minute mark, as Richarlison scored a header at the near post. Reinier’s exceptional run from midfield setup Richarlison’s second of the match to seal the victory for Brazil.
Despite dominating the possession and having 22 shots compared to the Saudis’ five, Brazil struggled to consolidate their lead before Richarlison stepped up. With the victory, Brazil topped the group with seven points. Saudi Arabia, coming into the fixture with nothing to play for, finished without a point in last spot.
French misery continues as Japan achieve historic result
France’s last group game in men’s football turned out to be their last fixture at Tokyo Olympics, as they succumbed 4-0 defeat against Japan. Les Bleus began their tournament with a loss against Mexico and the last game wasn’t much better at all. Both performance-wise and score-wise, the Asian heavyweights thrashed France.
Takefusa Kubo opened the scoring yet again and Hiroki Sakai added another to put Japan into a 2-0 lead before half-time. Koji Miyoshi, coming on for Kubo, repeated a similar feat, scoring in the 70th minute. Daizen Maeda, after coming on in the 80th minute, scored in stoppage time to register a historic win.
Japan and Mexico qualify as the top two sides, as France and South Africa return home from Tokyo Olympics men’s football in Group A.
Argentina and Germany crash out after respective draws
Two of the biggest giants in world football, Argentina and Germany, crashed out of their respective groups after a 1-1 draw in their respective matches. Argentina drew with Spain, whereas an under-performing German U-23 side finished all square against the Ivory Coast.
After losing against Australia in the opening match, Argentina required a victory against La Roja to qualify. Mikel Merino’s strike in the 66th minute diminished those hopes for La Albiceleste, who left it too late to respond. Tomas Belmonte’s 87th-minute strike was only enough for a draw.
After brave performances, Egypt join Spain in the knockout rounds from Group C, as Australia and Argentina go out. Spain, with a win and two draws, march on as group leaders in Tokyo Olympics men’s football.
Germany’s tournament opener was a massive under-performance based on what was expected from them. Stefan Kuntz’s side conceded four against Brazil and on the last day required to win in order to go through. However, an own-goal worked against Germany.
Brazil topped Group D as Ivory Coast join the play-off spot, causing yet another upset in the men’s Tokyo Olympics football event.