Olympic Football Tournaments Beijing 2008

Olympic Football Tournaments Beijing 2008

7 August - 23 August 2008

Olympic Football Tournaments 2008 - Men

Jo stars as Brazil claim bronze

Brazil's Jo celebrates scoring against Belgium
© Foto-net

A Diego strike and a brace from Jo gave Brazil their second bronze medal in four Olympics following a 3-0 win over Belgium at Shanghai Stadium.

Save for a good spell of pressure in the 15 minutes before half-time, the South Americans were largely in control and the scoreline was a fairly accurate description of their dominance, although Belgium were perhaps unlucky not to score on a hot and humid evening in eastern China.

Indeed, the Diables Rouges were quickest off the blocks and had a chance as early as the second minute when Maarten Martens' swerving right-footed shot almost evaded Renan, the Brazilian goalkeeper doing well to guide the ball into his arms.

Soon after, Faris Haroun fed Tom De Mul on the right hand side, who crossed inside the box looking for Maartens. But with the Belgium captain shaping to shoot, Rafinha showed great awareness to nip in front of his man and clear the ball.

Manchester City striker Jo had a great opportunity to open the scoring with ten minutes on the clock, but put his free header from Ronaldinho's corner wide of the target. The latter, meanwhile, found himself in the referee's notebook on the 26th minute for simulation.

A minute later, Brazil broke the deadlock. Jo, gathering possession in midfield, fed the ball to Rafinha, whose cross was turned home by Diego under pressure from Thomas Vermaelen and Haroun.

After going behind, Belgium played their best football of the match. Maartens beat Rafinha down Brazil's right hand side and whipped in a cross with the onrushing Kevin Mirallas inches away from applying a decisive touch.

The architect of that chance had two good opportunities in two minutes to draw Brazil level. Right-sided midfielder De Mul found the AZ Alkmaar midfielder inside the box, but he screwed his shot wide. Then, after some great approach play down the left, Maartens' goalbound shot - which had Renan beaten - was deflected out for a corner by Breno's thigh.

However, with the Europeans committing men forward, gaps were left at the back and they paid the penalty as half-time approached. Ronaldinho played the ball to Ramires on the right, who struck the a shot inside the near post. Logan Bailly parried, but the ball fell straight into the path of Jo, who headed the deflection into the empty net.

Trailing 2-0, Belgium coach Jean Francois de Sart made a double substitution in the 54th minute with Maartens and Mirallas coming off for Landry Mulemo and Anthony van den Borre. However, the move had little impact, as aside from an off-target Vermaelen header and Jan Vertonghen's left-footed drive which was inches away from the target, the Europeans rarely threatened Brazil's goal.

In a dull second 45, Brazil's attacking forays were as rare as the Belgians, but substitute Thiago Silva stung the hands of Bailly with a long-range drive. The Racing Genk goalkeeper was called into action once again, saving smartly to deny Marcelo his second goal of the tournament.

With seven minutes left to play, Sepp De Roover had a great opportunity to pull one back, when he twisted his way past Marcelo in the box and fired a shot through the legs of Alex Silva. The ball was turned away unconvincingly by Renan's right wrist and the chance was gone.

Jo added Brazil's third with virtually the last kick of the game, sprinting clear after being released by Diego. The tall striker outstripped Vermaelen for pace and threaded the shot through the legs of the unfortunate Belgium keeper.

So it's Dunga's Brazil to fly to Beijing to receive their bronze medals on Saturday night, while Belgium head home empty handed. With this victory, a replica of the 1996 podium standings is still on the cards, providing Nigeria beat Argentina in Saturday's final. But will lightning strike twice at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament? Time will tell.

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