Brazil will face Mexico in the men’s Olympic football final at Wembley on Saturday. Gold-medal favourites Brazil beat South Korea 3-0 tonight, with two goals from Leandro Damiao. Mexico had earlier come from behind to beat Japan 3-1.
In the match at Old Trafford Brazil, despite their later excellence, failed to find any early rhythm and were disrupted by South Korea’s work rate. Ji Dong won took the fight to the favourites, and desperate tackles from Rafael and Juan Jesus were needed to deny him.
But South Korea failed to turn their dominance into a goal and Brazil soon started to assert themselves. After 31 minutes Brazil’s increasingly attractive football bore them a goal. Sandro Raniere won the ball in midfield and fed Neymar, who found Oscar. The new Chelsea man perfectly weighted his pass to Romulo, who shot inside the near post.
It took 12 minutes of the second half for Brazil to score their second. Neymar, down at the by-line at the left hand side rolled the ball into the box. It evaded Marcelo but reached Leandro Damiao who finished comfortably. Seven minutes later he scored again, digging out a clever finish after a winding run by Neymar and clever pass by Oscar.
At Wembley earlier there was a similar pattern, but with the losing side scoring first. Japan started the better team, going ahead after 12 minutes when, 20 yards from goal, Yuki Otsu drove the ball into the far top corner.
Mexico had done very little and it took half an hour for their first chance, when Giovani Dos Santos stabbed a shot wide. But two minutes later he created the equaliser. Dos Santos’ corner was flicked on by Jorge Enriquez at the near post, and Marco Fabian headed it in.
From there Mexico were dominant. They controlled the second half despite the withdrawal of the injured Dos Santos at the interval. They continued to increase their tempo and make chances against a tiring Japanese side.
After 20 second half minutes Oribe Peralta put Mexico ahead. First he had a 20-yard shot saved by Shuichi Gonda, who rolled the ball out to holding midfielder Takahiro Ohgihara. The midfield dallied, though, Peralta stole it back, and shot into the top corner.
The confirming goal came in added time. Japan failed to deal with a long ball, which Javier Cortes won. He exchanged passes with Peralta before running unchallenged at goal and shooting underneath Gonda.