Familiar faces win through to semi-finals

31 Jul 2021
  • No upsets in quarter-finals at Tokyo 2020

  • Hosts and three former winners progress

  • Japan survive a penalty shoot-out

There were no big surprises in the quarter-finals at Tokyo 2020 on Saturday as the hosts and three former tournament winners all booked their places in the last four. Holders Brazil eased past Egypt and Japan were taken to penalties by New Zealand, while goals flowed in the other two games as 2012 champions Mexico downed Korea Republic and Spain saw off Côte d'Ivoire in their bid to reclaim the gold medal they won on home soil in 1992. Results Spain 5-2 Côte d'Ivoire (AET) Spain became the first team through to the semi-finals but only after extra time and some nervy moments against a Côte d'Ivoire side left nursing regrets. Les Éléphants began by opening the scoring and later went 2-1 ahead in added time via Max Gradel, only to be swept aside during extra time – leaving them unable to improve on their quarter-final exit in 2008. Japan 0-0 (4-2 pens) New-Zealand Dominant throughout, Japan could not find a way past goalkeeper Michael Woud, whose superb performance helped the Kiwis take the tie to penalties. However, it was Woud's counterpart Kosei Tani who emerged as the hero with a decisive save during the shoot-out.

Brazil 1-0 Egypt A single goal was all it took for Brazil to dispatch Egypt and take another step closer to retaining their title. Richarlison was the provider this time, the tournament's top scorer on five goals setting up Matheus Cunha for a magnificent finish from just inside the edge of the area. As for Egypt, who narrowly scraped through their group, they could only try in vain to trouble Brazil keeper Santos. Korea Republic 3-6 Mexico Mexico made their superior technique count against Korea Republic and controlled this tie from start to finish, quickly opening the scoring before surging clear after the interval. El Tri can now look forward to a meeting with Brazil in the last four – a rematch of the 2012 final. Memorable moments Elephants forget basics The first three goals Côte d'Ivoire conceded against Spain all stemmed from unforced defensive mistakes. First came a weak chested back-pass from Wilfried Singo which Dani Olmo pounced on in a flash, before Les Éléphants allowed the ball to bounce in their area while leading in added time – Rafa Mir needed no more invitation. They then gifted Spain the lead in extra time following Eric Bailly's handball during an aerial duel. Super-sub Mir Despite a ball possession figure of over 60 per cent during the group stage, Spain had only managed two goals in their three games before this tie. In short, they were struggling in front of goal – until Mir showed them the way. The Wolverhampton Wanderers forward struck with his very first touch just 58 seconds after coming on and added two more goals in extra time, becoming the first player to score a hat-trick in this competition since Argentina's Carlos Tevez hit three against Costa Rica in the 2004 quarter-finals.

Donggyeong's sweet left foot Korea Republic's Lee Donggyeong finished on the losing side against Mexico, but only after registering an excellent double. He began with a superb touch to wrongfoot Luis Romo and a sumptuous left-footed effort into the top corner to make it 1-1, before another delightful southpaw finish for his second. The 23-year-old had already shown what he could do in the warm-up game against Argentina, as you can see for yourselves in the video below.

Attacking masterclass Mexico made light work of Korea Republic, the competition's leading scorers before this game on 10 goals. Although the Asian side still managed to boost their total to 13, they have now been overtaken by El Tri, who have racked up 14 in four games – with seven different scorers. Mexico's quarter-final victory also yielded their first six-goal haul in a single game at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament. The quote "We played against a very good team who deserved their place here. It was a very tough match which required a lot of patience from us. They came out of a difficult group in which they avoided defeat against Spain and showed themselves to have a very solid defence." Brazil coach Andre Jardine on Egypt Semi-finals Tuesday 3 August (local time)

Mexico-Brazil Kashima Stadium, 17:00 Japan-Spain Saitama Stadium, 20:00