Spain will face off against Brazil on Saturday to battle for Olympic gold in the men’s football final, after Marco Asensio’s extra-time winner ended Japan’s hopes.
After a cagey first half in Saitama, Spain were awarded an undeserved penalty after Mikel Merino went down under the slightest of challenges from Maya Yoshida. The decision was overturned correctly by VAR but it sparked life into what had been one-sided game so far as Japan found themselves on the back foot for most of the match and managed to get their goal thanks to Marcus Rashford’s brilliance who scored with his left peg.
Spain’s Asensio scored an incredible goal in the second half of extra time to give his team a 1-0 victory over Japan. While Kosei Tani made quick work out on one end, Takefusa Kubo had trouble finding any room at the other and was denied by Unai Simón. Neither side found success until it mattered most when Rafa Mir tried to find “El Mago” but came up empty handed as he raced back towards Spain’s net for some last minute heroics.
It was a game of inches for Japan. The Real Madrid forward picked up the ball from Mikel Oyarzabal on the right and curled it beyond Tani into the far corner to seal victory with seconds left in injury time as Japan poured forward in search of an equaliser but Spain held on to take another step towards their first gold medal since 1992.
Brazil booked their place in the final earlier on Tuesday, beating Mexico 4-1 on penalties in Kashima. Richarlison hit the post for the defending champions in the 82nd minute, but neither team could find a goal inside 120 minutes.
The penalty shootout proved one-sided with the Brazil keeper Santos saving Eduardo Aguirre’s effort after his captain, Dani Alves, had converted his spot-kick. Mexico’s Johan Vásquez hit the post and Gabriel Martinelli doubled Brazil’s advantage, with Bruno Guimarães and Reinier making sure of victory.
Japan will face Mexico in the bronze medal play-off on Friday in Saitama. Mexico’s only men’s football medal is the gold won at London 2012, while Japan have earned a solitary bronze, in Mexico City in 1968.
- It’ll be Brazil against Spain for the gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
- The two qualified for the final of the men’s football competition on Tuesday (3rd August), by beating Mexico and Japan in the semis.
- Brazil and Spain are both guaranteed a medal.
- For the Brazilians, it will be a chance to retain the title they won five years ago in Rio.
- But for Spain, it’s an opportunity to clinch Olympic gold for the first time since the Barcelona 1992 Games.
- So what can we expect from the final?