On Tuesday and Wednesday, quarterfinal contenders in women and men’s football tournament were decided. Four women’s and Eight men’s teams went out of the reckoning and the qualifiers now prepare for the knock-out stage. Women’s quarterfinals will be played on August 12 and men’s on August 13. In one of the men’s games on Wednesday, hosts Brazil broke the tension by beating Denmark 4-0 after two goalless draws. The win also took Brazil to the top of Group A with Denmark taking the second place thanks to Iraq and South Africa ending in a 1-1 draw and making their exits. The Group-stage games in men’s tournament were peppered with 7 penalties, of which 3 were wasted. In men’s Group D, despite their 1-1 draw with Algeria, Portugal finished on top ahead of Honduras, who drew 1-1 with Argentina to send them out of contention. Germany topped Group C, where Korea took the second spot after beating defending champions Mexico 1-0. From Group B, Colombia and Nigeria made the play-off grade with Japan and Sweden exiting the tournament. Among women, host Brazil topped Group E despite a 0-0 draw with South Africa, the only Group E team to miss the knock-out stage as China took the second place and Sweden qualified as one of the two best third-placed teams. The other third-placed team to enter play-offs was Australia in Group F. USA topped Group G ahead of France, and Canada topped Group F with Germany taking the second place.
Brazil belatedly saved themselves the blushes with a resounding 4-0 victory over Denmark in the last match of men’s Group A. Anything less than the victory would have meant an early exit for the hosts. The two Gabriels found their touch in the crunch game and scored a goal each in the first half. Barbosa, nicknamed as Gabrogol broke the Brazilian goal drought in the 26th minute after he received a good pass from Jesus. In the 40th minute, Jesus himself found the net after a 1-2 with Luan. For the first time in the tournament, the trio of Gabriel Barbosa, Gabriel Jesus and Neymar attacked their opponents with vengeance and unsettled Denmark’s rhythm. Every time the three players moved ahead, they built huge pressure on the Danish defense. The raucous crowd at Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova thoroughly enjoyed the show from their heroes and celebrated at every opportunity. 10 minutes after the break, Brazil made it 3-0, when Jesus fed a nice pass to Luan, who shot decisively. Brazil completed the 4-0 rout, when Gabrigol scored his second goal, 10 minutes from the final whistle. Despite the loss, Denmark still qualified to reach the quarterfinals because in the last Group A game, Iraq and South Africa drew 1-1. For a place in semifinals, Brazil will have to beat their South American rivals Colombia on Saturday while Denmark will take on the Nigerian Super Eagles.
The two Group D matches saw four penalties. The first came Portugal’s way in their match against Algeria and Goncalo Paciencia didn’t miss. Though the match was drawn at 1-1, Portugal still sealed the top spot in Group D. In their last Group D match against Honduras, Argentina missed both their penalties and exited the tournament with a 1-1 draw. Honduras converted the only penalty awarded to them and went to the quarterfinals. On Saturday, Portugal will play against Germany while Honduras face Korea. In Group C, Germany thrashed Fiji 10-0 at Belo Horizonte. The Germans earned two penalties during the match and one was wasted. Nils Petersen scored 5 goals in the match including one from penalty. Maximilian Meyer scored three but it could easily have been four if he had not missed the penalty. The remaining two goals for Germany came from Serge Gnabry. Defending Olympic champion Mexico went out of contention after their 0-1 loss against Korea. In Group B, Colombia shocked Nigeria 2-0 and sealed their spot in the play-offs. In the other inconsequential Group B match at Salvador, Japan defeated Sweden 1-0.
In women’s draw, hosts Brazil couldn’t win their last game after two successive victories earlier. But the 0-0 draw still allowed them to lead the Group E. In the other match of this Group, China and Sweden were also locked in a 0-0 draw. But both of them cruised to the quarterfinals; China was placed second behind Brazil while Sweden emerged as one of the best third-placed teams. Canada defeated Germany 2-1 in Group F and ensured the top finish in the Group. Germany also qualified as the second placed team while Australia earned the tag of the second best third-placed team by blowing away Zimbabwe 6-1. From Group G, New Zealand and Colombia were eliminated. New Zealand lost 0-3 against France but Colombia put up a brave show against defending champions USA and forced a 2-2 draw. In Friday’s quarterfinals, Brazil play against Australia; Canada take on France, USA meet Sweden and China square up with Germany.
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