While the 4 remaining women’s soccer teams were preparing for Monday’s semis, 8 teams competed to extend their Olympic campaigns to the men’s semifinals. For some of those teams, today’s quarterfinal games ended with the desired result, but for others, it was an utter disappointment.
Japan extended their winning streak to 4 games after defeating Egypt 3-0 in front of over 70,000 football fans. Kensuke Nagai, a Japanese forward, began their series of goals. In the 14th minute, he took advantage of the miscommunication between Egyptian defender Saadeldin Saad and goalkeeper Ahmed Elshenawi and found the back of the net. As a cross was made to Nagai by Hiroshi Kiyotake, the two Egyptians collided, taking out the only obstacles that stood between the him and the goal. After such a good start from Nagai, he suffered an injury to his back in the 19th minute, sending him off the pitch. This injury did not stop the Japanese from scoring goals though. In the 41st minute, the number of Egyptians went down to just 10, after Saad was shown a red card by the referee. After that, the Japanese were unable to put their numerical advantage to use until late in the second half. Maya Yoshida scored a header in the 78th minute, and Yuki Otsu extended their lead to 3 just 5 minutes later with another header. With every game bringing them more and more confidence, the Japanese may have a pretty good chance to bring home the gold.
Although the Mexico-Senegal match wasn’t as one-sided as today’s first match, the Mexicans managed to move on to the semifinals with a score of 4-2 after extra time. They survived the fight that Senegal had put up after 120 minutes of “drama.” Mexico began applying the pressure just minutes after the start of the game. One of their many attempts finally succeeded just after the tenth minute, when a free kick found its way to Jorge Enriquez Garcia. He responded with a header that made its way past Senegal goalkeeper Ousmane Mane and into the goal. Senegal played a hard game following that goal, with multiple golden chances to equalize the score. Despite Senegal’s pressure, Javier Aquino Carmona made it 2-0 after scoring just about 20 minutes before full time. At that point, Senegal’s future seemed all but golden, but they did not give up. They responded quickly this time and caught the Mexicans off guard after equalizing the score at 2-2 with two goals, 7 minutes apart. Moussa Konate and Ibrahima Balde of Senegal managed to score two beautiful headers before the end of the second half. Mexico dominated extra time though, with two more goals from Giovani Dos Santos and Hector Herrera Rubio, ending the game at 4-2 and sending Mexico forward.
Although Brazil made it into the semifinals, they suffered a big scare from Honduras. The Brazilians had a few good chances in the beginning, but Honduras still managed to score very early into the game. On the 12th minute, Mario Roberto Martinez was given the ball inside the box, and without hesitation, he chipped the ball over the goalkeeper and into the corner. The game changed significantly after the half hour mark when Wilmer Crisanto was given a second yellow card. Realizing their advantage, Hulk managed to make a cross to Leandro Damiao that sailed past two defenders. Without a doubt, he equalizef the score at 1-1. Just after the start of the second half, Roger Espinoza made a breakaway that put Honduras back in the lead after a left-footed shot sailed into the bottom-left corner of the goal. During Brazil’s first attack following that goal, a foul was committed on Damiao inside the box, resulting in a penalty that Neymar was able to convert. But it was the Brazilians who were able to secure the win, when the ball was crossed to Leandro Damiao, who scored again in the bottom-left corner. The Hondurans nearly equalized the score during stoppage time, but the ball was deflected and a red card was given to Roger Espinoza, giving Brazil a sigh of relief now that they are going to the semis.
The hosts of the 2012 Olympics were unfortunately 1 of the 4 teams that did not make it past the quarterfinals. Although they fought a hard battle against South Korea, they were defeated after failing to convert their final penalty kick. The Koreans dominated most of the first half, having multiple good chances. They were finally able to make a shot successful in the 29th minute, when British goalkeeper Jack Butland was unable to save a fairly elementary kick from Dong-Won Ji. Aaron Ramsey of Britain was given two penalty chances within 4 minutes, the first of which was kicked right under the diving goalkeeper and the second was blocked away. After that point in the game until the end of extra time, not many great chances were given to either team to score. After the 120th minute ended, both the British and South Koreans went on to the penalty shootout feeling confident. South Korea managed to make it through without missing a single shot, while the final penalty for Britain by Daniel Sturridge was blocked by the substitute goalkeeper, handing South Korea the last spot in the semifinals.
The men’s football semifinals will take place on August 7th, with Mexico taking on Japan at 17:00 London time and South Korea playing Brazil at 19:45.