Olympic Soccer 2012: Brazil Dominates New Zealand to Sweep Group Stage

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Olympic Soccer 2012: Brazil Dominates New Zealand to Sweep Group Stage
Stanley Chou/Getty Images

Brazil beat New Zealand 3-0 to advance to the quarterfinals of the men's Olympic soccer tournament. Brazil won all three group games by outscoring their opponents nine goals to three. Having guaranteed their place in the next round, Brazil was able to rest some of the starters against New Zealand. 

Oscar, Hulk and Alexandre Pato all started on the bench for the Brazilians. Pato came on in the 76th minute to replace Neymar, and Oscar came on in the 80th minute for Leandro Damiao. 

It didn't take long for Brazil to get on the score sheet. On a truly Brazilian give-and-go, Danilo netted home the opening goal in the 23rd minute to give the group leaders the advantage. A Marcelo-Alex Sandro connection led to Sandro slipping a ball to Damiao in the 29th minute for a 2-0 lead.

The third goal for Brazil came in the 52nd minute on a beautiful cross by Neymar and finished by Sandro. Neymar has been far-and-away the best player in the tournament and continued his strong play in the third group match. He is proving why he is one of the youngest and brightest prospects for European football.

While Brazil cruised and got the victory, it wasn't all smooth sailing. Sandro picked up two yellows after the 70th minute, with his second coming in the 77th minute. The red card for Sandro means he will miss the quarterfinal matchup.

In the quarterfinals, Brazil gets the Group D runner-up. With Japan likely winning the group, this would mean a game against either Honduras or Morocco. Both are favorable matchups for Brazil. 

Brazil has looked the part of tournament favorite thus far, but can they continue their excellent run of play in the knockout stage towards a gold medal?

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