Saitama, Japan: Mikel Oyarzabal helped Spain into a second semi-final in a month while Brazil remains on track for a quick return to another final.
Olympic men’s soccer lacks the status of the European Championship or Copa America. The Tokyo Games still offer the chance for the countries to collect trophies this year.
The Spanish were taken by Ivory Coast to extra time before winning 5-2 on Saturday with the go-ahead goal scored by Oyarzabal, who also netted the winning penalty in the Euro 2020 quarterfinals. The continental semi-final was lost to Italy. Now a more youthful Spain squad will be hoping to find a way past Japan, which was taken to penalties by New Zealand before winning the shootout 4-2.
The gold medallist on home soil in 2016, Brazil continued their title-defence with a 1-0 victory over Egypt secured by Matheus Cunha’s low strike in the 37th minute.
The goal was set up by Richarlison, who has been allowed by Premier League club Everton to do double-duty in the offseason, having already been in the side that lost to Argentina in the Copa America final three weeks ago. Egypt wasn’t allowed to bring players from England’s top league like Brazil - particularly Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah as one of the three players over the age of 24 permitted in the men’s competition.
For Brazil, standing in the way of reaching another final on Tuesday is Mexico, which ousted South Korea 6-3 with a pair of goals from Henry Martin.
Canadian women advance
In women’s football, Canada reached the women’s soccer semi-finals for the third consecutive Games as goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe saved two Brazil penalties in a 4-3 shootout win on Friday, while Australia stunned Britain in extra-time.
After Canada captain Christine Sinclair’s penalty was saved by Barbara, Labbe rescued her side with two diving saves to keep out Brazil’s final two spot kicks from Andressa and Rafaelle.
Labbe, who made four crucial saves in a goalless 120 minutes at Miyagi Stadium, did well to stay on the field after falling hard at the end of the second half of extra time.
The Rosengard goalkeeper’s heroic efforts ensured Brazil were denied another crack at the gold medal, having claimed silver in 2004 and 2008.
Canada, who took home bronze at the last two Olympics, will next face the winner of the quarter-final between the United States and the Netherlands.
Britain suffered heartbreak in extra time as a Sam Kerr double helped Australia to a 4-3 victory at the Ibaraki Kashima Stadium after her first goal in the 89th minute had brought the scores level at 2-2 to force the extra period.