By Andrew Downie
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Brazil beat Colombia 2-0 to move into the last four and a date with Honduras, while Nigeria and Germany both won on Saturday to set up an intriguing semi-final line up in men’s soccer at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Brazil, who have never won the Olympic soccer title, were nervous, especially in a first half that had 21 fouls and five yellows cards, four of them for Colombia.
The visitors rarely tried to play, preferring to hack at their opponents and it was from a 30-yard free kick that Brazil took the lead after 12 minutes with Neymar curling the ball through a wall that disintegrated.
Brazil were the better team throughout and Luan got the second goal they deserved seven minutes from time when he lifted a sublime chip over the goalkeeper from 25 yards out.
“It was very important that we scored early and that helped us not fall into their trap of winding us up,” defender Marquinhos told TV cameras after the game in Sao Paulo.
“We are very disciplined to not lose a goal and when we score early that allows us to open up a bit,” he added.
“We held it together at the back and we played well.”
Rampant Germany hammered Portugal 4-0 to set up a semi-final clash with Nigeria.
Serge Gnabry put the Germans ahead with an angled strike just before halftime and Matthias Ginter added a second with a commanding header from a corner 12 minutes into the second half.
Davie Selke got the third in the 75th with a goal that was almost identical to the first before substitute Philipp Max put the icing on the cake when he ended a sweeping move with a neat finish into the top corner three minutes from time.
Germany will face Nigeria in Sao Paulo on Wednesday after the Africans scored in each half to beat Denmark.
John Obi Mikel put Nigeria ahead after 16 minutes when he slotted home from the edge of the six-yard box after Imoh Ezekiel had set him up. Aminu Umar doubled their lead with a glancing header that may have come off his shoulder from a corner after 58 minutes.
Honduras, seeking their first soccer medal in the Olympics, were inferior to a South Korea side that had 16 shots, compared to six for the Central American side, who got the only goal of the game after 59 minutes.
The speedy Romell Quioto ran the length of the field before feeding Alberth Elis who coolly side-footed home from 15 meters.
The Koreans pushed frantically for an equalizer but could not score.
The men’s tournament is restricted to players aged under 23, though each squad is allowed to name three ‘overage’ players.
(Editing by Susanna Twidale and Ken Ferris)