Brazil on course for men’s football gold, while USA women look set to retain Olympic title
Brazil will play Mexico in the final of the men’s Olympic football competition after they comfortably beat South Korea 3-0 at Old Trafford.
Romulo gave Brazil the lead with a first-time strike after being played in by Chelsea new boy Oscar.
Leandro Damiao continued his fine form by bagging two more goals after the break to take his competition tally to six goals, one ahead of his nearest rival Moussa Konate.
In the other semi-final, Mexico beat Japan 3-1 to seal their place in Saturday’s final.
Despite their imperious form leading up to the semi-final clash, Mano Menezes’ side started slowly and could have found themselves a goal behind if Kim Hyun-sung and Ji Dong-won were more clinical in front of the goalposts.
Brazil slowly came into the game and were only denied the opening goal by the heroics of Lee Bumyoung in the Korea goal as he first denied Damiao before keeping out a curling effort from Romulo.
Alex Sandro, starting in place of Hulk up front, then saw a shot cleared off the line before Brazil eventually made the breakthrough on the 38th minute.
Romulo latched onto a fantastically weighted pass from Oscar before hitting a low shot past Bumyoung at the near post.
Just as they did in the first half, South Korea started the better of the two sides but they soon found themselves two goals down as Damiao slotted home Neymar’s cut-back.
The game was put to bed just minutes later as Damiao grabbed his second of the match with a toe-poked effort that drifted into the corner.
It means Brazil are in their first Olympic final since they claimed silver in 1988 and they will look to go one better this time around when they play Mexico, who sealed their place in the final the hard way.
Luis Fernando Tena’s team found themselves a goal down following Yuki Otsu’s fine finish after neat built-up play from Keigo Higashi.
Mexico were soon back on level terms though after Marco Fabian headed home from close-range after Japan failed to clear from a corner.
That was the first goal Japan had conceded in the competition and their defence was breached again after Oribe Peralta struck brilliantly from 20 yards.
Javier Cortes wrapped up victory in injury time as he burst through the Japanese defence before stroking home.
There was better news for Japan in the women’s competition as they beat France 2-1 to book their place in the final against USA.
Japan took the lead on the half-hour mark after Yuki Ogimi capitalised on a mistake from France keeper Sarah Bouhaddi to fire home from close range.
Mizuho Sakaguchi then doubled Japan’s lead with a well-taken header but Eugenie Le Sommer made it 2-1 with a first-time effort.
Le Sommer was in the action again late on when she was brought down in the area, but Elise Bussaglia missed the resulting penalty and Japan held on to secure their spot in the gold medal match.
Japan will play USA after they edged past rivals Canada 4-3 thanks to Alex Morgan’s goal in the last minute of extra-time.
Canada captain Christine Sinclair grabbed a superb hat-trick as Canada took the lead three times in the match.
However, they were pegged back each time following a brace from Megan Rapinoe and Abby Wambach’s penalty to make it 3-3 after 90 minutes.
The game seemed to be heading to extra-time but the defending Olympic champions managed to find a late winner through Morgan’s last-gasp header.
Laurence Taylor, Football correspondent