Men’s Soccer

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Brazil blanks Colombia, advances to men’s soccer semifinal

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After failing to score in group play Brazilian captain Neymar Jr. changed that Saturday night against Colombia, scoring on a free kick in the 12th minute to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. Brazil would control the action for much of the night at Corinthians Arena, with Luan’s goal in the 83rd minute sealing the 2-0 victory. After struggling in their first two matches 0-0 draws against South Africa and Iraq, Brazil has won their last two matches by a combined score of 6-0.

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With that, they’re off to the Maracan√£ where they’ll take on Honduras in the semifinals Wednesday. The two nations met in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Olympic tournament, with Brazil winning 3-2 on their way to the silver medal in London.

Honduras earned their spot in the semifinals with a 1-0 win over South Korea, with Alberth Elis’ goal in the 59th minute being the difference. For head coach Jorge Luis Pinto, this trip to the Olympic semis comes two years after he led Costa Rica to the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. South Korea had more possession of the ball and scoring opportunities, but they were unable to capitalize on any of those chances. And as a result, they won’t medal after taking bronze in London four years ago.

The other semifinal match pits Germany against Nigeria, with both posting impressive victories Saturday. A Serge Gnabry goal in first half stoppage time gave Germany a 1-0 lead on Portugal, and they would tack on three more goals in the second half to win 4-0. That result comes a year after Portugal whipped Germany 5-1 in the semifinals of the 2015 U-21 European Championships. As for Nigeria, they beat Denmark (which won the aforementioned U-21 Euros) 2-0 thanks to goals from Mikel John Obi and Aminu Umar.

Nigeria last won the Olympic gold medal in 1996, and Germany has yet to win gold as a unified nation (East Germany won in 1976).

Brazil rolls into men’s soccer knockout stage

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After two matches in which they failed to score a single goal, Brazil’s men’s soccer team was on the receiving end of a great deal of criticism heading into their group stage finale against Denmark Wednesday night. With Neymar Jr. and Gabriel Barbosa, nicknamed “Gabigol” for his ability to put the ball into the back of the net, the Brazilians weren’t expecting to see their team struggle as they did in scoreless draws against South Africa and Iraq.

That all changed against the Danes, as Gabriel Barbosa got the hosts onto the scoreboard in the 26th minute. From there Brazil would go on to score three more times, beating Denmark 4-0 to win Group A and clinch a spot in the knockout stage. Denmark also managed to go through, with Iraq and South Africa playing to a 1-1 draw keeping the Danes in second place on four points.

WATCH: Brazil rolls past Denmark, wins Group A

In the quarterfinal round Brazil will take on South American rival Colombia, while Denmark draws Group B winner Nigeria.

While Brazil managed to shake out of its funk Wednesday, the two teams whose nations combined to win the last three men’s soccer gold medals are headed home. Argentina, Brazil’s bitter rivals, finished tied for second in Group D with Honduras but inferior goal differential means that the gold medalists in 2004 and 2008 failed to advance. The 2012 gold medalists are also out, with Mexico finishing third in Group C behind South Korea and Germany.

Germany posted the high score of the day, as they routed Fiji 10-0 with Nils Petersen responsible for five of the goals. Next up for Germany is Group D winner Portugal, with South Korea facing Honduras in the quarterfinals.

Brazil held by Iraq, still scoreless in men’s soccer competition

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Two years after suffering humiliation on home soil in the form of a 7-1 defeat to Germany in the semifinals of the World Cup, Brazil entered the Summer Olympics with high expectations for their men’s soccer team. With the tournament being a U-23 affair with teams being allowed three overage players, the presence of Neymar Jr. and a home crowd had to be enough to get Brazil its first-ever gold medal in the sport, right?

Well, after two matches the home team has yet to score a goal. Sunday night Brazil was held to a 0-0 draw by Iraq, applying even more pressure to Neymar and company ahead of their group stage finale against Denmark Wednesday. The Danes currently lead Group A on four points after they defeated South Africa, 1-0, Sunday.

The U-23 level isn’t on par with the senior competitions, but for a nation long known for its abilities on the pitch not having an Olympic gold medal is a curiosity of sorts when it comes to Brazil. While the likes of Neymar and Gabriel Jesus have managed to create scoring opportunities in their matches against South Africa and Iraq, they haven’t been able to put the ball into the back of the net.

Brazil can still go through to the knockout stage, with a win over Denmark being enough to ensure progress. But with the goals non-existent, the home team finds itself in a more perilous position than anyone expected before the tournament began.