Olympic Soccer 2012: Brazil Beats Honduras to Advance to Semifinals
Brazil beat Honduras 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the men's Olympic football tournament.
The real story of the match was German referee Felix Brych, who gave out five first-half yellow cards.
He showed two yellows to Wilmer Crisanto in quick succession, resulting in a red card and disqualification in the 32nd minute. Crisanto was sent off after he swung his leg at Neymar, resulting in a takedown. The second yellow was harsh considering that Brych had just given Crisanto a yellow a minute earlier.
The referee gave out 11 yellow cards throughout the match and called 42 fouls. In addition to the red card shown to Crisanto, the ref showed a second yellow to Espinoza in the 90th minute. The second red was much more deserved than the first.
Brazil was in shock early when Honduras took the lead on a brilliant shot by Mario Roberto Martinez that flew into the corner of the goal. Five minutes after the red card, Brazil made the most of the man-advantage, as Leandro Damiao was able to knock a loose ball into the net.
Honduras wouldn't settle for fighting for penalties as the second half opened. In the 47th minute, Roger Espinoza hit a low, left-footed strike perfectly angled into the corner for a 2-1 Honduras advantage.
The lead didn't last long, though, as the referee awarded Brazil a penalty after Velasquez stepped on Damiao's foot in the box. Neymar calmly drilled the penalty to tie the game at two goals apiece.
In the 59th minute, Damiao added his second goal as the Honduran defense collapsed around Neymar. Damiao's shot was deflected by the keeper, but the ball still found the net.
It was a wild game, and it never felt like a rhythm was established. It was choppy due to all the fouls, and it showed in the quality of play for both sides.
Unfortunately, the lasting story from this game will be the referee and the amount of cards given. It was a physical match, and there were plenty of fouls that were fairly called, but some calls were questionable. A proper ref needs to establish consistency in what he will and will not allow throughout the match.
Honduras played a great match despite being down a man. It handled the pressure of playing the tournament-favorite Brazil extremely well.
Brazil, on the other hand, played poorly for the first time in the tournament. It was an uninspired performance for Neymar and Oscar. Goalkeeper Gabriel was extremely shaky in his second start of the tournament.
Brazil will face the winner of the Great Britain-South Korea match later today in the semifinals on August 7 at 2:45 p.m. ET.
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