Photo: Pite of Portugal and Ayoub Abdellaoui of Algeria battle for the ball during Rio 2016 Olympic Games [courtesy: FIFA]
Algeria and Portugal played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in Belo Horizonte at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016.
Argentina wasn’t so fortunate as they crashed out of the competition, leaving Honduras to progress after a 1-1 draw.
The Algeria versus Portugal draw saw the European side claim top spot in Group D.
Goncalo Paciencia secured his third goal in three games, this time from the penalty spot.
Mohammed Benkablia, however, leveled up for the African side, scoring a fine individual goal to even matters.
The opener came midway through the first half, after Carlos Mane made a penetrative run into the Algerian penalty area.
Oussama Methazem, sprinting from his line, brought down the Portugal’s No17.
Paciencia stepped up, making no mistake in dispatching past the goalkeeper, who replaced Farid Chaal in the starting XI.
Benkablia then produced the highlight of the game, dribbling past several Portuguese challenges with some outstanding close control.
He then curled a right-footed effort beyond the reach of the despairing Bruno Varela.
Baghdad Bounedjah, one of Algeria’s brightest players at Rio 2016, created a few chances for himself, including a free-kick from distance which was inches off target.
In the second half, Portugal rather shut up shop, and seemed happy to take the point which guaranteed top spot in Group D.
They will travel to Brasilia for their quarter-final, and await the results from Group C later today, as they will face the second-placed side – one of either Korea Republic, Mexico or Germany.
HONDURAS PROGRESS AT ARGENTINA’S EXPENSE
Honduras repeated their feat of four years ago by making it to the quarter-finals of the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament.
They played out a one-all-draw with Argentina in a match defined by spot-kicks.
Bryan Acosta and Angel Correa missed penalties either side of half-time for Honduras and Argentina respectively, only for Antony Lozano to make it third time lucky.
Mauricio Martinez’s injury-time goal was too little too late as the Albiceleste crashed out.
Things were finely poised before the game, with Honduras in second place and just shading the South Americans on goal difference.
That balance was later to be transferred onto the pitch for the opening stages.
That was until Giovani Lo Celso’s inch-perfect free-kick found Jonathan Calleri who side-footed wide when he would have expected better.
The game burst into life and, were it not for a bold charge from aptly-named goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli, Lozano could well have put Honduras ahead.
Free-kicks were beginning to look like fertile ground for Julio Olarticoechea’s side as Correa’s cross caused trouble.
They were eventually back-heeled over by Leandro Vega, before the Atletico Madrid forward crafted a great chance for Calleri, who blazed over.
Lozano went closer at the other end, rising high to force a save from Rulli, who was busier still a moment later.
Bringing down Alberth Elis for a penalty, he made instant amends by beating away Acosta’s effort.
The ball was placed on the same spot soon into the second period, with Calleri hauled down, but Correa similarly fluffed his lines, clipping the base of the post.
Argentina began to commit more bodies forward and Elis strode into one of the gaps left.
Lautaro Giannetti rashly dived in to bring about a third penalty with Lozano making no mistake of it.
Chances fell both ways in the final minutes, with Honduras rattling the post.
Even though Martinez’s deflected free-kick provided hope, it was ultimately the CONCACAF side left celebrating.
In the women’s arena, Canada shocked Germany 2-1 as the last eight were confirmed after a final round of group games brimming with suspense and action.
The quarter-final line-up of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016 is now set:
Canada-France, USA-Sweden, China PR-Germany and Brazil-Australia.
Both Brazil and USA finished top of their groups.
That was despite recording disappointing draws against South Africa (0-0) and Colombia (2-2) respectively.
Canada, meanwhile, rested Christine Sinclair and Janine Beckie, but still overcame Germany in impressive fashion to top their section.
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