Brazil's (L-R) Rafael, Thiago Silva, Marcelo and Leandro Damiao (9) celebrate defeating Honduras in their men's quarter final soccer match against Brazil at the London 2012 Olympic Games at St James' Park in Glascow August 4, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/David Moir)
Will the real Brazil please stand up?
The Brazilians became the semi-finalist of the day with another three-goal performance against an extremely impressive Honduras squad.
Brazil's 3-2 victory was far less impressive than their previous victories. Honduras took the game to them early in the match and took a 1-0 lead on a impressive aerial tic-tac toe passing in the Brazilian box. In the 12th minute Roger Espinoza took the ball down the left side. As he ran out of real estate, he cut back in and lofted a precise cross to Maynor Figueroa at the edge of the box. Figueroa touched the aerial ball over a Brazilian defender to Mario Martinez who volleyed the ball into the far right post and gave Honduras a stunning 1-0 lead.
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The goal gave Honduras all the momentum and Brazil seemed lethargic and confused for much of the first half. But fate was on their side on this day as Wilmer Critano got two yellow cards for a tackle on Hulk and a less offensive one on Neymar. That put Honduras down to ten men and seemed to indicate that Brazil would find the back of the net sooner or later.
And they did. But not with impressive pinpoint passing or flashy display that one might expect. They evened the match up at one in the 38th minute when Hulk crossed the ball in off the right wing. Two Honduras defender went to seize the ball but confusion ensued and the ball remained open in the box. Leandor Damiao slid the ball home at the second.
At the start of the second, the Central Americans got back to task and took the game to Brazil. Espinoza was eventually rewarded when he drove the ball home at the 48th minute to give Honduras a shocking but much deserved 2-1 lead. But the delight would not last long as referee Felix Brych would call a controversial penalty in the box. Damiao was brought down in the box by Vasquez, though the call was questionable. On the ensuing shot, Neymar blasted the ball in the net to tie the game.
The penalty seemed to insight a great deal of anger from Honduras who upped their aggressive play and continued to force themselves into the Brazilian end. But Brazil would benefit from being up a man in the 60th minute when Neymar fed a breaking Damiao who added his 4th goal of the tournament.
But Honduras would not be had and even when they went down another man late, they created more opportunities.
Neymar scored his third goal of the tournament and assisted on Damiao but the Santos striker was unimpressive with a plethora of off-target passes. Realizing that the referee was being relatively loose with his calling fouls, Neymar was consistently found falling on the ground on thre or four straight plays. The crowd responded by booing him every time he touched the ball.
Brazil looked lethargic throughout as Honduras played with a greater deal of heart and intensity, looking like the better squad when each side had 11 men a piece. Brazil had shown weakness in the defensive zone through the group stage, but their offense usually made up for it. Against Honduras, their defense was at its most atrocious.