Brazil reaches gold medal game; Neymar, Gabriel Jesus lead rout of Honduras
Brazil left no doubt that it would have the chance to play for the Olympics gold medal that has eluded its storied men's national team.
Neymar & Co. pounced on Honduras in record time and rolled to a 6-0 victory in the Olympics semifinals on Wednesday at a sold-out Estadio Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro.
Neymar opened the scoring just 15 seconds in–the fastest goal in Olympic history–and tallied a penalty in the dying moments of the second half, while also adding two assists. Gabriel Jesus scored twice in the first half and Marquinhos and Luan added to the rout, which vaults Brazil into Saturday's final against Germany–two years after Germany's 7-1 destruction of Brazil in the World Cup semifinals.
Captain Neymar made a statement for the Seleção from the start, pressuring center back Johnny Palacios off the opening kick. He won the ball, had goalkeeper Luis Lopez come sliding out to try and clear it, only to have it hit off Neymar and trickle into the goal.
Neymar was taken out by the slide and landed on his arm, which appeared to knock the wind out of him. Neymar fell to the ground in pain, attempted to get up and stay on, collapsed back to the ground and was eventually stretchered to the sideline.
Soon after, he jogged back onto the field, holding the left side of his chest, but he continued on, much to the delight of the capacity crowd in Rio de Janeiro.
Brazilian telenovela in first 5 minutes: Neymar scores, celebrates, down on ground, up again, down again, stretchered off, back onto field.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) August 17, 2016
Gabriel Jesus made it 2-0 in the 25th minute, with Brazil capitalizing on a turnover in the midfield. He was played through down the left channel after cutting through the defense, and beat an on-rushing Lopez with a deft flick off the outside of his right foot to double Brazil's advantage.
The Manchester City signing made it 3-0 in the 35th after Neymar split the defense with a perfect through ball. Gabriel Jesus finished with aplomb for his second, putting Brazil in prime position to advance.
It became 4-0 five minutes into the second half, as PSG center back Marquinhos was given enough time, even after overrunning a ball from Neymar, to recover and fire home from close range.
Luan extended it to 5-0 with his second goal in as many games, finishing off a beautiful attacking sequence by tapping home an unselfish pass from Felipe Anderson at the far post.
Neymar capped it in second-half stoppage time after Palacios fouled Luan to gift Brazil a penalty. The Barcelona star confidently finished low and to the left, completing the 6-0 result.
Brazil and goalkeeper Weverton finished off the shutout, a fifth consecutive one at the Olympics. The hosts will enter the final not having conceded in 450 minutes of play this month.