AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo

Neymar, Brazil score early and often, advance to gold medal match in Rio

Leave a comment

Braces from Neymar and Gabriel Jesus led Brazil to a Olympic semifinal demolition of Honduras at the Maracana Stadium in Rio on Wednesday.

Marquinhos, and Luan also scored for Brazil in a 6-0 win.

Brazil will face the winner of Germany and Nigeria’s afternoon match in the final on Saturday.

WATCH: Neymar’s goalMatch replay

The first :15 seconds of Wednesday’s men’s soccer semifinal between Brazil and Honduras had a little bit of everything.

First, a horrible giveaway from Honduras. Then, a goal from home country superstar Neymar.

Finally, that same superstar on the field with an apparently chest injury. Twice. He was stretchered off, only to return (though this was not the sort of faux injury that fuels the vitriol of soccer haters).

Neymar picked the pocket of a defender before seeing a loose ball bound off Honduran keeper, off him, and then into the goal.

But he clutched his chest on the turf during the celebration, then ran a few steps before dropping to the turf again. After being stretchered off, the Barcelona star returned to the game.

Gabriel Jesus scored in the 26th minute to boost Brazil’s lead to 2-0, and added another before halftime.

All the breaks well Brazil’s way, as missed Honduras’ clearance was accidentally trapped by Marquinhos outside the six. The PSG man easily tapped home to make it 4-0.

Felipe Anderson found Luan for a cross-six goal in the 79th minute for Brazil’s fifth goal.

A cynical takedown of Luan in the box in the 90th minute provided for the final penalty, converted by Neymar. He feigned a free throw in celebration, and the match was over.

Beach volleyball player’s dog becomes social media sensation

Mathias Berntsen
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Norwegian beach volleyball player Mathias Berntsen‘s dog, Kiara, captivated social media this weekend.

A video of Kiara peppering with Berntsen and a pair across the net on a grass field spread from Berntsen’s Instagram across platforms. Kiara now has 12,000 Instagram followers, more than twice the total of Berntsen.

Berntsen, 24, is one half of Norway’s second-best beach volleyball team.

He and partner Hendrik Mol are ranked 45th in the world and well outside the Tokyo Olympic picture (24 teams go to the Games), but could get in the mix depending on how qualification is amended once sports resume.

Berntsen and his cousin Mol are part of a group called the Beach Volley Vikings. Mol’s younger brother, Anders, and family friend Christian Sorum are the world’s top-ranked team (profiled here).

MORE: Beach volleyball players fly to Australia, learn event is canceled

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

FIFA rules on Olympic men’s soccer tournament age eligibility

Gabriel Jesus
Getty Images
Leave a comment

For the first time since 1988, some 24-year-olds will be eligible for the Olympic men’s soccer tournament without using an over-age exception.

FIFA announced Friday that it will use the same age eligibility criteria for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 that it intended to use in 2020 — that players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997 are eligible, plus three over-age exceptions. FIFA chose not to move the birthdate deadline back a year after the Olympics were postponed by one year.

Olympic men’s soccer tournaments have been U-23 events — save those exceptions — since the 1992 Barcelona Games. In 1984 and 1988, restrictions kept European and South American players with World Cup experience ineligible. Before that, professionals weren’t allowed at all.

Fourteen of the 16 men’s soccer teams already qualified for the Games using players from under-23 national teams. The last two spots are to be filled by CONCACAF nations, potentially the U.S. qualifying a men’s team for the first time since 2008.

The U.S.’ biggest star, Christian Pulisic, and French superstar Kylian Mbappe were both born in 1998 and thus would have been under the age limit even if FIFA moved the deadline to Jan. 1, 1998.

Perhaps the most high-profile player affected by FIFA’s decision is Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus. The Manchester City star was born April 3, 1997, and thus would have become an over-age exception if FIFA pushed the birthdate rule back a year.

Instead, Brazil could name him to the Olympic team and still keep all of its over-age exceptions.

However, players need permission from their professional club teams to play in the Olympics, often limiting the availability of stars.

MORE: Noah Lyles details training near woods, dog walkers

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!