Records tumble as groups close
© AFP

If any one player stood out on the final day of the group stage of the Women's Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008, it was Brazil's Cristiane, who sent Nigeria packing almost single-handedly. Her hat-trick in the 3-1 win was her second in Olympic football to go with the one she notched at Athens 2004, and today's was also the fastest hat-trick in the history of Women's Olympic Football Tournaments.

Heather O'Reilly was another goalscorer in a hurry. The striker opened the scoring for USA over New Zealand after 41 seconds with the fastest ever goal in a Women's Olympic Tournament.

The big game
Sweden - Canada
The Canucks were in the more favourable position before the match kicked off in Beijing, having four points on the board to Sweden's three, meaning the Scandinavians desperately needed to get a result from the tie if they were to stay in the competition.

The runners-up at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2003 knew what was at stake and started the match all guns blazing, to the delight of the 51,112 crowd. Lotta Schelin gave the European side the lead in the 19th minute and then went on to make it 2-0 as the Swedes caught their opponents on the break.

Canada nevertheless managed to battle their way back into the match, and Diana Matheson halved the deficit on 63 minutes, making the final half-hour a high-octane affair.

By the time the final whistle blew, both teams had cause to celebrate, with Sweden and Canada making it through to the last eight, each with a continental derby to look forward to: Sweden will face world champions Germany while Canada will play neighbours USA.

The other games
World champions Germany finished the group stage on seven points without conceding a goal, and, as was the case at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2007, their defence in front of goalkeeper Nadine Angerer is looking impregnable. In their final group match, they scored a narrow 1-0 over Korea DPR, which sent the Asian side crashing out of the tournament. Brazil meanwhile made sure of top spot in Group F with a comfortable 3-1 win over Nigeria.

Norway were already through to the quarter-finals, and after taking the lead through Guro Knutsen, they seemed to take their foot off the pedal against Japan. Yukari Kinga equalised in the first half, while after the break, the Asian team had much the better of play and pounced on the mistakes committed by their opponents. A Gunhild Folstad own goal followed by strikes from Shinobu Ohno, Homare Sawa and Ayumi Hara gave the Nadeshiko a 5-1 win and a spot in the knock-out stages, where they will face China PR.

The hosts themselves were facing Argentina in Qinhuangdao, and though the South Americans had prepared well for their final match at these Olympics, China PR were tactically too astute and good value for their 2-0 win with goals from Maria Quinones (own goal) and Gu Yasha.

The USA made it through to the last eight thanks to that quick-fire goal from O'Reilly and further strikes from Amy Rodriguez, Lindsay Tarpley and Angela Hucles. The 4-0 defeat meant that New Zealand finished bottom of their group.

The player
Cristiane (BRA)
Anyone who manages to score three goals in the space of only 15 minutes at an Olympic Football Tournament belongs to the elite of women's football. Brazilian striker Cristiane managed that very feat today in her team's final group match against Nigeria. The 23-year-old had already notched three in one game at Athens in 2004, while today's was the fastest hat-trick in the history of Women's Olympic Football.

The stat
41
- The number of seconds it took Heather O'Reilly to give the USA the lead against New Zealand, making it the fastest goal in the history of the Women's Olympic Football Tournament.

What they said
"Cristiane's second goal was fantastic. She hadn't managed to score in the previous two matches which made this one particularly important both for her and for the team. We played very well as a team today. It was good for team bonding that we had to work hard for our win." Brazil centre-forward Marta

Results
China PR 2-0 Argentina
Nigeria 1-3 Brazil
USA 4-0 New Zealand
Sweden 2-1 Canada
Korea DPR 0-1 Germany
Norway 1-5 Japan

The quarter-final line-up
USA - Canada
Brazil - Norway
Sweden - Germany
China PR - Japan