Brazil have reached the final of the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament as predicted with a comfortable 3-0 win over South Korea.
It was Spartak Moscow’s Romulo who got the first goal, his effort sliding under the dive of Bumyoung, who should have done better. Leandro then smashed home number two shortly into the second half, and added a second to his tally to kill the game off and provide Brazil with a serious opportunity to win what would be there first ever Gold in this competition.
They didn’t have it all their own way though. South Korea – who had already eliminated Great Britain in the last round – refused to be over-awed by their prestigious opponents. Neymar started, as predicted, as did Manchester United’s Rafael, who received a good reception from the Old Trafford crowd. Tottenham’s Sandro also started, as did Real Madrid’s Marcelo in what was a strong looking team on paper.
But it was South Korea who dominated early proceedings and they could have had a penalty either side of both halves. First, Kim Bo-Kyung sent over a superb cross from the left wing for Kim Hyun-Sung, but his chance hit the outside of the post.
Moments later, South Korea were screaming for a penalty when Kim Hyun-Sung headed into the path of Ji Dong-Won, who looked to be clean through on goal only for Brazilian defender Juan to sloppily impede with a high boot that looked to concede a sure fire penalty, though it was inexplicably waved away.
Ji then hit a powerful drive just over Gabriel’s goal, with the keeper grateful to see it over.
Brazil, who had looked sloppy, lethargic and disinterested up until this point, soon got their act together after the 20 minute mark, when Sandro stung goalkeeper Lee Bumyoung’s fingertips with a testing drive. The rebound fell at an angle for Leandro who could only skew his effort wide.
It was promising from Brazil though, and when they won a freekick just outside the area, Neymar against tested Bumyoung’s reflexes with a curling effort which he did well to parry away.
There was a much greater sense of urgency for Brazil now, and their efforts bore the fruit of reward when they eventually got the breakthrough 8 minutes from half time.
Oscar fed the ball to Romulo, who sent a fairly tepid effort goal-bound. The ball somehow crept under the slow dive of Bumyoung though to make it 1-0 Brazil. South Korea had one more chance before half time, but Ji could only send his effort over.
Early in the second half, Sandro was lucky not to give away a penalty for an untidy challenge on Kim, the Spurs man getting nowhere near the ball. Again though, the appeals were waved away before Leandro attoned for his earlier miss to kill the game off just before the hour mark.
Neymar brought the ball down the left touchline, swiveled and cut the ball back into the penalty area for his teammate to slam home with aplomb.
South Korean heads went down at this point, and the floodgates looked set to be praised open, and indeed they were.
Thiago Silva’s fine long ball first found Neymar, who again brilliantly cut inside the box and found Oscar, who attempted a one-two only for the ball to deflect to Leandro. The ball seemed to get stuck underneath his unexpectant feet, but he was able to readjust his footwork brilliantly to sidefoot in the third to send Brazil sailing into the final.
Brazil then demonstrated the superiority of their depths in numbers by pulling off the excellent Marcelo and goal hero Leandro for Hulk and Pato.
Glory awaits for Brazil, who must now fancy their chances against Mexico in the final to win their first ever Olympic Gold medal at the Men’s Football.
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