Argentina ease through on top
© AFP

Argentina overcame Serbia 2-0 to advance to the last eight of the Men's Olympic Football Tournament on maximum points. Ezequiel Lavezzi and Diego Buonanotte were on target for the Group A winners, who will now take on Group B runners-up the Netherlands for a place in the semi-finals, while the Serbians will go home having taken just one point from a possible nine.

Argentina started the contest with Lionel Messi on the bench, but that did little to hinder their purposeful attacking waves in the early stages. Lavezzi threatened from the left and Fernando Gago imposed his will on the midfield.

Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic had already been forced into action on a few occasions before his resistance was broken on 13 minutes, Lavezzi stroking home a penalty after Angel Di Maria had been tripped. The Napoli ace came close to posting his - and his side's - second of the game moments later, but Stojkovic was equal to his low drive.

Serbia did their utmost to draw level, and Miljan Mrdakovic came close with one fierce long-range strike. However, Argentina, whose fans campaigned incessantly for the introduction of Messi, held out to go in at the interval 1-0 up.

Sergio Batista's side controlled proceedings following the restart, and they spurned a great chance to double their lead when Di Maria's twice-taken spot-kick was saved on both occasions by the sprightly Stojkovic. He was, however, powerless to prevent Buonanotte's sublime free-kick nestling in the top corner of his net on 84 minutes to seal Argentina's third straight victory. Serbian Dusko Tosic was sent off in the closing minutes to complete a miserable afternoon for his team.