: Brazil failed to make a winning start despite home advantage, a multi-million dollar strike force and a man advantage as it was held 0-0 by South Africa in its opening soccer match at the Rio Olympics on Thursday.
Brazil, which has never won the Olympic gold, started with a highly rated front three of Neymar, new Manchester City signing Gabriel Jesus, and 19-year-old Gabriel Barbosa, the Santos striker expected to head to Europe in this transfer window.
But the little-known South Africans matched them until they had Mothobi Mvala sent off just before the hour. Brazil pinned its opponent down after that but just could not score.
Barcelona striker Neymar had two of Brazil’s best chances, forcing keeper Itumeleng Khune to make diving saves to thwart two rasping drives from outside the box.
Jesus smacked the ball off the post from two yards out when it looked easier to score, while Barbosa should have done better when he scuffed a shot with only the keeper to beat.
That result was not the only surprise as its great rival Argentina lost 2-0 to Portugal.
It was the South Americans’ first Olympics reverse in 13 games. Argentina was unbeaten in winning gold during last two appearances in 2004 and 2008
Holder Mexico drew 2-2 with Germany in Salvador, with all four goals coming in the second half.
Later in the day, South Korea put eight goals past debutant Fiji.
Ryu Seungwoo got a hat-trick in the demolition in Salvador, with seven of the eight goals coming in the second half.
The goals also came in the second half at the same venue earlier in the evening, when Mexico drew 2-2 with Germany.
In Thursday’s final match, Nigeria beat Japan 5-4 with Oghenekaro Etebo grabbing four goals.
Earlier on Thursday, Iraq and Denmark kicked the tournament off with a 0-0 draw.
The first goals in the competition came soon after in Rio, where Honduras beat Algeria 3-2 in an enthralling match.
Group ‘A’: Iraq 0 drew with Denmark 0; Brazil 0 drew with South Africa 0.
Group ‘B’: Sweden 2 (Ishak 43, Ajdarevic 62) drew with Colombia 2 (Gutierrez 17, Pabon 75-pen).
Nigeria 5 (Umar 6, Etebo 11, 42, 51, 66-pen) bt Japan 4 (Koroki 9-pen, Minamino 13, Asano 70, Suzuki 90+5).
Group ‘C’: Mexico 2 (Peralta 52, Pizarro 62) drew with Germany 2 (Gnabry 58, Ginter 78); Fiji 0 lost to South Korea 8 (Ryu 32, 63, 90+3, Changhoon 62, 63, Son 72-pen, Suk 77, 90).
Group ‘D’: Honduras 3 (Quioto 13, Pereira 33, Lozano 79) bt Algeria 2 (Bendebka 68, Bounedjah 85); Argentina 0 lost to Portugal 2 (Paciencia 66, Pite 84).
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