Gabigol

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10-man South Africa somehow holds Neymar, Brazil in incredible Olympic draw

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Breathlessly, Brazil fans waited for their dominant home side to find a way past 10-man South Africa in the opener for both teams at the Olympics.

They are still waiting.

South Africa held Brazil to a 0-0 score, even after Mothobi Mvala took a 60th minute red card to set the hosts up for a win that would ultimately evade them.

It’s a massive point for South Africa, as Iraq and Denmark also drew 0-0 to put the African nation in the driver’s seat for the second spot in the knockout rounds.

MORE: Highlights/match replay here

Despite an energetic start filled with possession, it was South Africa counter that almost led to the first goal. Lebo Mothiba lunged to get his shot off, which was muffled by Brazil goalkeeper Weverton.

Brazil found itself in control for most the first half, but would seemingly finish every clever build-up with a big cross. South Africa was prepared for this, and just cleared the ball out of the box in any direction.

Weverton was far busier than Brazil would’ve expected, as South Africa was well prepared to counter and the officials sometimes unprepared to whistle fouls.

Felipe Anderson belted a volley of a South Africa defender. Neymar saw a 20-yard flash tipped over the goal. Brazil was knocking, but couldn’t enter.

South Africa found some moments through the midfield after halftime, and Weverton was forced to collect a flying header on the goal line.

Mvala took his second yellow when he hockey hip-checked the rampant Zeca minutes after his first, yellow, and Brazil would set for a half-hour with a man advantage.

A left back for club, Zeca forced Itumeleng Khune into a palm-stinging save before an even better chance for Brazil. Luan flipped a creative pass far post to Gabriel Jesus, but the new Man City man couldn’t get around the ball to slap it into the open net.

Then Neymar curled a hard shot just over the far corner, but Brazil could not chase down the opening goal. It was the 73rd minute, and still scoreless.

Neymar worked a great give-and-go with Gabriel Barbosa, but “Gabigol” was stopped by a splayed leg save from Khune (having an earlier overhead kick chance go just over the bar).

The goalkeeper was stop Neymar after a twice-deflected shot grounded to his hands deep into stoppage.

WATCH LIVE: Neymar, loaded hosts Brazil open Olympics versus South Africa

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Neymar gets his first chance to influence a major international tournament this summer when hosts Brazil face-off with South Africa at what’s sure to be an electric Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha in Brasília on Thursday.

The 3 p.m. EDT kickoff sees the Barcelona star and his tournament favorite side open play in its group, three hours after Iraq and Denmark got Group A started.

WATCH: Brazil vs. South Africa at NBCOlympics.com

In addition to Neymar, there’s his Barca teammate Rafinha and Lazio standout Felipe Anderson. The side will be buoyed in the back by Paris Saint-Germain mainstay Marquinhos, and new Manchester City man Gabriel Jesus joins “Gabigol” of Santos as a dangerous young combination in attack.

26-times capped 26-year-old Eric Mathoho and 75-times capped goalekeeper Itumeleng Khune lead a South African unit that will need to pull off a major shock to get a point against the hosts.

In addition to streaming onNBCOlympics.com, the match will also be available on the NBC Sports app.