Last night the Men’s Olympic football games kicked off for the first round, with eight games featuring sixteen teams across four groups being played throughout the evening in Brazil.
Hosts Brazil were booed off the pitch as they could only manage a draw against South Africa in their first group game. Experienced Goalkeeper Khune organised the South African defence and launched counter attacks from his own box. Neymar was isolated up front and had to continue to come back and collect the ball. Gabriel Jesus, the new Manchester City signing, hit the post after a nice build up from Brazil, but the hosts – who were silver medal winners last time out – will continue to look for their first goal in their next game.
Elsewhere in Group A, Iraq and Denmark also battled to a goalless draw. The game was lively with a number of chances for both sides, Iraq’s Ali Adnan regularly made things happen when he received the ball on the wing, and had two free kicks saved by Hojberg who kept it level. Both teams will be disappointed not to capitalise on Brazil’s slip up.
Group B started off with Colombia and Sweden entertaining the crowd in Manaus with a 2-2 draw. Colombia took the lead after 17 minutes, only to be pegged back just before half time by Ishak, who looked lively throughout the game. Sweden then went on to score again in the 62nd minute. Colombia fought back and and scored with 15 minutes to go, and both sides claimed a point from a fair result.
Nigeria arrived latest to the tournament, only flying into Rio a few hours before their first game against Japan, but still managed to pull off a win from a thrilling 5-4 game which saw Japan draw level twice until Nigeria pulled away, with Etebo scoring four of Nigeria’s five goals.
In Group C, South Korea trounced Fiji 8-0 in the first game of the tournament, with a hat-trick from Ryu Seung-woo as the bronze medalists of the last Olympics surprised everyone, scoring their first goal just past the hour mark then going on to add another seven in the final thirty minutes.
The stacked German team took on Mexico in Salvador, as the favourites took on the gold medal winners, both sides scored two and shared the points each. The first three goals came in quick succession, with Peralta opening the scoring for Mexico from a corner early in the second half, before Arsenal’s Gnabry equalised for the Germans six minutes later. Mexico again went ahead four minutes after that with Pizarro putting the ball in the net. Matthias Ginter latched onto the end of a Julian Brandt corner to level the score and that’s how the game ended. This draw extends Mexico’s unbeaten run to eight games.
In Group D, Portugal announced their arrival at the Olympics with a 2-0 victory over Argentina, with goals from Paciencia and Pite. Portugal had a goal ruled offside early on, which it was a sign of things to come. Argentina forward Calleri burst forward but hit the bar early in the second half, then Paciencia put the Portugese ahead with a low show into the bottom left. Argentina goalkeeper Rulli produced a number of good saves to make sure the score wasn’t doubled, but couldn’t keep Argentina in the game as he let a long shot in, that he should have saved from going into the back of the net.
In the final game of Group D, Honduras withstood a bombardment from Algeria’s forwards to cling onto a 3-2 win. Honduras stormed into a 2-0 lead thanks to Quioto and Pereira, before being pegged back by Bendebka. Honduras scored again and looked set to win until Bounedjah scored in the closing minutes, setting up a nervy finale which Honduras managed to deal with.
Which game was the best game at the Olympics so far? Leave me a comment below and let me know.