Brazil finally find their form with 4-0 rout of Denmark in Olympic football

Brazil finally found its scoring touch in the men’s football tournament at the Olympics.

The host country advanced to the quarter-finals by beating Denmark 4-0 on Wednesday, avoiding another embarrassing elimination in front of the home fans.

Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa scored twice and Gabriel Jesus and Luan added the others at the Arena Fonte Nova as Brazil continue their quest to win the Olympic gold medal for the first time.

The Brazilians will next play Colombia on Saturday in São Paulo.

Brazil had been held to scoreless draws in their first two group games and needed a victory to guarantee a spot in the knockout round. They ended up first in Group A with five points, one more than Denmark, who also advanced and will play Nigeria in Salvador. South Africa and Iraq were eliminated after a 1-1 draw in São Paulo.

The convincing victory also helped Brazil regain the support of the local fans, who had been disappointed by lacklustre performances and had loudly jeered the team in the games against South Africa and Iraq.

The crowd of more than 40,000 fans was behind the team from the start in Salvador and chanted “The champions are back” during parts of the game.

Led by Neymar, Brazil arrived as favourites to win the Olympic tournament, which is the only trophy the five-time world champions have not won.

Brazil’s Gabriel Barbosa shoots to score his team’s fourth goal.

Needing the victory, Brazil attacked from the start and took the lead through Gabigol’s close-range shot after a low cross by Douglas Santos in the 26th minute. Gabriel Jesus added to the lead from near the goalline in the 40th minute after a pass by Luan, who scored the third from near the penalty spot in a play started by Neymar. Gabigol’s second goal came with a shot off a rebound in the 80th.

Neymar, who had been heckled by some fans after struggling in the first two matches, played better and was much more involved in the game. Gabigol and Gabriel Jesus, the 19-year-old forwards touted as some of Latin America’s most promising players, also improved and finally found the net.

Brazil were in danger of another humiliating elimination just two years after the 7-1 loss to Germany at its home World Cup. The senior team also disappointed at the Copa América two months ago, failing to advance from the group stage of the continental competition.

Earlier on Wednesday, two-time Olympic champions Argentina and defending champions Mexico were eliminated after failing to advance from the group stage.

Playing without any of their biggest stars, Argentina needed a win against Honduras but were held to a 1-1 draw at the Mané Garrincha stadium in Brasília. It was another blow to Argentinian football following the senior team’s loss in the Copa América final in June and the ongoing crisis enveloping the sport at home.

Mexico, who brought a stronger team and were among the title favourites, lost to South Korea 1-0 in Brasília to end their chances of repeating their triumph from four years ago, when they upset Brazil in the final in London.

South Korea will next play Honduras in Belo Horizonte.

Germany will play Portugal in Brasília after advancing to the quarter-finals with a 10-0 rout of Fiji at the Mineirão Stadium in Belo Horizonte, the same place where the country’s senior team embarrassed Brazil 7-1 in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup. Fiji had already lost 5-1 to Mexico and 8-0 to South Korea.

All quarter-final matches will be on Saturday.

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