Egypt secured their place in the Africa Cup of Nations knockouts by edging past Sudan 1-0 thanks to Mohamed Abdelmonem's goal. 

The seven-time AFCON champions took second place in Group D behind Nigeria, who defeated them in their opening game of the campaign, and look likely to face the Ivory Coast in the last 16. 

Sudan goalkeeper Mohamed Mustafa did well to deny Mostafa Mohamed but Abdelmonem got the better of him with a powerful header from the edge of the six-yard box following a corner in the 35th minute.

Mohamed Salah was unable to finish off a mazy run in the 60th minute and Amr El Soleya failed to make the most of a neat lay-off from the Liverpool attacker shortly after. 

Egypt's place in the knockouts was secured after Mohamed El-Shenawy saved Mohamed Abdel Raman's free-kick and got his head in the way of Mustafa Karshoum's follow-up, warding off the threat of a dramatic fightback from Sudan. 

Wednesday's action at the Africa Cup of Nations sees Group D conclude with two heavyweights seemingly set for the knockout phase.

Egypt certainly have not been without their critics in this tournament, with the performances turned in by Carlos Queiroz's men far from spectacular, but they remain on the brink of progression.

Assuming they get the job done, they will join Nigeria in the next round after the Super Eagles won both of their first two matches.

The two giants of AFCON football will be expected to prevail on Wednesday.

Guinea-Bissau v Nigeria (19:00 GMT)

Considering Nigeria have come into this tournament essentially under the guidance of a caretaker manager in Augustine Eguavoen, the Nigerian Football Federation's technical director, they have made a very solid start.

They head into matchday three with six points from two games and have the chance to win all three first-round matches for the first time since 2006.

Nigeria will be massive favourites as well. Guinea-Bissau have never won an AFCON game in eight attempts, with only Benin (14), Mozambique (12) and Namibia (nine) playing more tournament matches without a single success.

Their issue this time around has been an obvious wastefulness in front of goal, failing to score from 16 shots that convert to an expected goals (xG) total of 2.2 – if they are goalless in this game, Guinea-Bissau will become the first team in AFCON history to go seven successive matches without scoring.

One to watch: Taiwo Awoniyi (Nigeria)

Union Berlin forward Awoniyi may be a relatively new face at international level, but he has looked a prominent threat for Nigeria. His nine shots over the first two games was more than twice as many as any other Super Eagles player, while his 14 touches in the opposition's box is also the most of anyone in the squad. Still, one goal from 2.4 xG suggests he could sharpen up a little.

 

Egypt v Sudan (19:00 GMT)

A point will be enough for the Pharaohs to follow Nigeria into the knockouts, though their defeat to Eguavoen's men means second place is the best they can hope for.

Egypt have looked every inch a side reliant on Mohamed Salah in this tournament, with his goal against Guinea-Bissau last time out breathing some life into their campaign.

While a draw will be enough for them, in reality only a win over Sudan will satisfy the expectations of supporters.

Sudan's xG total (1.25) and xGA (expected goals against) of 3.17 are the worst of the four teams in Group D, and Egypt will hope to capitalise on their lack of defensive solidity and attacking threat.

One to watch: Ali Achrine (Sudan)

If Sudan are to stand any chance of beating Egypt and potentially going through to the knockout phase, goalkeeper Achrine will surely need to be in inspired form.

 

Mohamed Salah scored the only goal of the game to give Egypt a much-needed Africa Cup of Nations victory against Guinea-Bissau at the Roumde Adjia Stadium on Saturday.

The Liverpool star struck a precise volley midway through the second half to secure his side's first points of the tournament.

The Pharaohs breathed a sigh of relief late on, though, when an apparent equaliser from Mama Balde was ruled out after a lengthy VAR check for a foul by the goalscorer on Omar Kamal.

Salah had struggled to make an impression in Egypt's opening defeat against Nigeria after being played down the middle, but the 29-year-old was back in his favoured position on the right side here and gave a hint that it could pay off in just the second minute as he received the ball in space before cutting inside and firing a shot against the near post.

Fali Cande hit a free-kick over the bar after 11 minutes for Guinea-Bissau, before Egypt hit the same part of the same post again when a nice move between Salah, Omar Marmoush and Mostafa Mohamed saw the latter's shot deflect away off the woodwork.

Egypt head coach Carlos Quieroz made changes to his team in the second half, including moving Salah back into the middle, and it worked as a clipped ball in the 69th minute into the box from Amr El Soleya found Salah, whose left-footed volley squirmed under Guinea-Bissau goalkeeper Jonas Mendes.

Quieroz's men hit the post for a third time through Zizo, before Balde got away from Kamal and hit a tremendous shot into the far right corner, but a VAR check saw the goal disallowed for a foul on the defender as Egypt went second in Group D with one game to go.

The Africa Cup of Nations continues on Saturday with two mouthwatering games from Group D.

After 10 of the first 14 games of this year's competition finished 1-0, it was a nice change of pace that none of the four clashes on Friday did, but all four of the teams playing on Saturday would no doubt happily take a 1-0 in their favour.

Nigeria will be looking to follow up their impressive opening 1-0 win (naturally) against Egypt when they face Sudan, while Mohamed Salah and the Pharaohs will be aiming to bounce back against Guinea-Bissau.

Nigeria v Sudan

These two nations are meeting for the third time at the Africa Cup of Nations, but it will be their first encounter at the tournament for 46 years. Sudan won the first match 4-0 in the 1963 group phase, while Nigeria won 1-0 in 1976.

The Super Eagles will be looking to continue their impressive AFCON record in recent times, having won 10 of their last 12 games (L2), keeping six clean sheets.

Following a goalless draw in their opening match against Guinea-Bissau, Sudan have now managed just one win in their last 14 AFCON games (D6 L7), dating back to the 1972 tournament.

After scoring the only goal of the game against Egypt, and in his very first Africa Cup of Nations game, Leicester City's Kelechi Iheanacho could become the first Nigerian player to net in his first two AFCON appearances since Emmanuel Emenike in January 2013.       

One to watch: Samuel Chukwueze

The Villarreal winger made four key passes against Egypt, more than twice as many as anyone else in the game. The 22-year-old has two goals and an assist from 12 appearances this season in LaLiga, as well as averaging one chance created per game.

Guinea-Bissau v Egypt

This will be the first AFCON encounter between Guinea-Bissau and Egypt, but neither side come into it with anything like good form.

Guinea-Bissau remain winless in their seven matches at AFCON (D3 L4) and could become the seventh side not to win any of their first eight matches in the competition after Angola, Benin, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia and Uganda.

Egypt have lost two consecutive AFCON games for the first time since 2002. In fact, they have lost three of their last six in the competition, more than in their previous 29 combined (W21 D6 L2).

Guinea-Bissau have failed to score in five consecutive AFCON games. The only side to ever go six without scoring in the competition was Kenya in 1990.

One to watch: Mohamed Salah

Salah seems like the obvious pick but then the Liverpool star has scored 16 goals in the Premier League this season, six more than anyone else, and will no doubt want to improve on the solitary shot he managed against Nigeria.

Jamaican central defender Damion Lowe and Egyptian club Al-Ittihad Alexandria have officially parted ways after both parties agreed to terminate his contract.

The 28-year-old Lowe joined the club on a free transfer on a two-year deal in November 2020 after a short stint with Phoenix Rising in the United Soccer League (USL) came to an end.

Since joining the club, Lowe has made 32 appearances over one-and-a-half seasons, scoring two goals while helping the team to nine clean sheets.

Lowe started his professional career with Reading United in USL League Two in 2013 before getting drafted by MLS outfit Seattle Sounders a year later.

During his time with the Sounders, he was loaned out to Seattle Sounders FC 2 and Minnesota United before moving on to Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2017.

He then got his first taste of European club football with Norwegian club IK Start from 2017-2020.

After terminating his contract with Start, he returned to Phoenix Rising in September 2020 then moved to Al-Ittihad of Alexandria in November that same year.

MLS team Inter Miami CF is likely Lowe’s next destination based on reports that he has undergone a medical with them.

 

 

Nigeria were deserved 1-0 winners in their heavyweight Group D opener with Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations, with Mohamed Salah unable to inspire the record seven-time champions.

Carlos Queiroz's side were second best for virtually the entire game but especially the first half, when they found themselves trailing to Kelechi Iheanacho's wonderstrike.

The Leicester City striker was afforded time to take a touch just inside the box, but there was little Mohamed El-Shenawy could do about the finish as Iheanacho rifled into the top-right corner as the ball sat up nicely for him.

The lively Taiwo Awoniyi thought he had made it 2-0 early in the second half, but his header was adjudged to have been saved right on the line.

A poor touch then robbed Iheanacho of the chance to slot into an empty net, before the quiet Salah was crowded out just in time as he got a feeble shot away in a rare sighting of goal for Egypt.

Egypt will now be playing catch-up on matchday two as they face Guinea-Bissau. Nigeria could potentially secure passage to the knockouts against Sudan.

 

Tuesday will be a day of contrasts as defending champions Algeria begin their Africa Cup of Nations title defence against a Sierra Leone side returning to the competition after a 26-year absence.

Algeria will be unequivocal favourites as they look to begin Group E in positive fashion, with Djamel Belmadi's men unbeaten in 34 competitive matches.

Their success in last month's Arab Cup contributed to that run and provided part of their squad with a solid period of preparation.

But the biggest game of the day will take place between Group D rivals Nigeria and Egypt, who will both be hoping to make early statements in their respective title bids.

Algeria v Sierra Leone (13:00 GMT)

It is déjà vu for Sierra Leone, as they faced Algeria – their only previous AFCON meeting – when they last qualified for the competition back in 1996.

But AFCON stalwarts Algeria will be massive favourites here as they begin their 19th participation in the tournament, aiming to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since Egypt's three in a row between 2006 and 2010.

Few will envy the task on Sierra Leone's hands, with Algeria having scored more goals (19) in qualifying than any of the 24 teams in Cameroon.

If they avoid defeat on Tuesday, Algeria will beat their previous best unbeaten run (eight matches) at the AFCON.

One to watch: Said Benrahma (Algeria)

The Fennec Foxes' squad is packed full of experience and quality, with as many as five players boasting double-figures for international goals. West Ham star Benrahma is yet to establish himself among their key players, but this season has found another level in the Premier League, his nine non-penalty goal involvements being bettered by only seven forwards.

 

Nigeria v Egypt (16:00 GMT)

On paper, Group D looks very tough to call – this encounter could at least give us an idea of who is likeliest to finish top.

Either way, this is a proper heavyweight duel between two of the AFCON's most-recognisable nations.

This will be Egypt's 25th appearance at the AFCON, more than any other country, and they are aiming to win it for a record-extending eighth success.

But Nigeria's pedigree is similarly impressive given the fact they have reached the semi-finals in 14 of the previous 16 tournaments.

If they do emerge victorious on Tuesday, it will end Egypt's 16-match group stage unbeaten run, which dates back to 2004.

One to watch: Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Obvious? Perhaps. Justified? Absolutely. Many would argue Salah has been the best player in the world over the past year, and so he has high expectations to meet here. No other player in Carlos Queiroz's squad has more than seven international goals and despite only being 29, he's at least four years older than any other forward in the selection – and let us not forget, he already has 25 Premier League goal involvements this term, 12 more than anyone else.

 

Sudan v Guinea-Bissau (19:00 GMT)

Sudan will be hoping it is a happy return to Africa's biggest tournament as they prepare for a first outing since the 2012 edition.

Ending a run of no clean sheets in the competition since beating Ghana 2-0 in the 1970 final would certainly go along way to giving them a platform to build on over the next month.

Since that success 52 years ago, Sudan have only picked up three wins from a possible 13, but they will not head into the fixture scared of Guinea-Bissau, even though they lost to them 4-2 as recently as September.

Baciro Cande's men have finished bottom in each of their previous two AFCON appearances and go into this game without a goal in 437 minutes in the competition, the worst goalless run of this year's participants.

One to watch: Mohamed Abdelrahman (Sudan)

The Falcons of Jediane will be pinning most of their hopes on striker Abdelrahman, who scored a third of their nine goals in the qualification campaign.

Sunday finally sees the start of a tournament that has already been rescheduled twice as the Africa Cup of Nations 2021 begins in Cameroon.

Originally scheduled for last year, organisers decided to move the tournament from the original dates of June and July 2021 forward to January and February due to concerns about the "unfavourable climactic conditions" in Cameroon.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic saw the whole thing pushed back by a year, and so here we are. Third time lucky, and with some of the game's biggest stars ready to create more memories as Africa's best tussle it out for the continent's biggest prize.

On the eve of the competition, Stats Perform takes a look at some previous memories and classic moments from Africa Cup of Nations history, with penalty shoot-outs featuring heavily.

An Englishman won an international tournament (no, seriously)

Referee Ali Bin Nasser oversaw one of the most controversial moments in football history as far as England are concerned, missing the relatively clear handball by Diego Maradona as the great Argentine's "Hand of God" helped dump the Three Lions out of the 1986 World Cup.

One particular Englishman may have been more forgiving about Bin Nasser though as the Tunisian official also took charge of that year's Africa Cup of Nations final, which saw Mike Smith's Egypt side lift the trophy. Perhaps Bin Nasser felt England had already won enough that year by the time he got to Mexico City.

The Egyptians had won the first two iterations of the competition in 1957 and 1959, before finishing as runners-up to Ethiopia in 1962.

However, they had not reached another final before hosting the 1986 AFCON, and so there was plenty of pressure on Smith – a former Wales boss – to deliver.

It did not start well as the hosts lost 1-0 to Senegal in Cairo in their opening game, but wins against the Ivory Coast and Mozambique, and then a semi-final victory against Morocco saw Egypt into their first AFCON final in 24 years.

The reportedly 100,000 in attendance will have feared the worst as the game with Cameroon went to penalties following a goalless encounter, especially with an Englishman in charge, but when Andre Kana-Biyik shot wide for the Indomitable Lions, Smith and Egypt had their hands on the trophy and a famous victory.

A penalty shoot-out is a marathon, not a sprint

Many players know what it is like to take a pressure penalty in a shoot-out and score, some know what it is like to do so and miss, but very few have ever done both, especially in the same shoot-out.

The final of the 1992 AFCON between Ghana and the Ivory Coast had not exactly been a classic, and inevitably went to penalties, where finally some drama occurred.

After seven successful penalties, Ghana's Isaac Asare missed, giving Joel Tiehi the chance to win it. He also missed, and when Tony Yeboah just about scored his penalty, it was back level.

That is how it stayed until every single player, including the goalkeepers, had taken one, now level at 10-10. Ivory Coast's Basile Aka Kouame stepped up to take his second penalty, and hit it straight at Ansah, who somehow failed to stop it.

This meant that Ghana's Anthony Baffoe, who had calmly slotted his penalty at the start of the shoot-out, had to do so again. His second effort was saved and the Ivory Coast had won, leaving Baffoe to come to terms with the rare experience of being both a hero and a villain in the same shoot-out.

Bafana Bafana win maiden tournament

South Africa had actually never played in the AFCON until they hosted in 1996, having been disqualified from the first tournament for refusing to field a multiracial team and subsequently banned during apartheid, before failing to qualify in 1994.

However, with Kenya stripped of hosting duties two years later due to financial irregularities, South Africa were given a place in the tournament after agreeing to step in.

One helping hand in their quest to lift the trophy on home soil was a diplomatic row between Nelson Mandela and General Sani Abacha, the military leader of Nigeria. As a result, the defending champions, who would also go on to win Olympic gold in Atlanta in 1996, did not compete.

A crowd of 75,000 in Soccer City watched their historic first AFCON appearance, which was a rather surprising 3-0 win over Cameroon. This was followed by a 1-0 win against Angola, which meant that they topped their group despite defeat to Egypt in their next game.

Six months prior, South Africa's rugby union side had lifted the World Cup on home soil, and now Clive Barker's team were also exciting the nation as they booked their place in the final back at Soccer City after wins over Algeria and Ghana.

They faced Tunisia in front of 80,000, who saw two late Mark Williams goals secure a surprisingly routine win to become the continent's champions.

As it turned out, that remains South Africa's one and only AFCON success to date, having not even reached a final since 1998.

Football is best when it means nothing

With the 2010 AFCON just days away, suddenly, the football did not seem so important.

A terrorist attack on the Togo team bus saw the driver, the team's assistant manager and media officer lose their lives, while several others suffered injuries.

The continent and the game was shaken, but the tournament still went ahead as planned, albeit without Togo who understandably withdrew.

The opening game between hosts Angola and Mali began with a moment's silence, before a frenetic 90 minutes that saw Angola throw away a four-goal lead with only 12 minutes remaining.

Flavio scored twice in the first half, and then a Gilberto penalty and another from former Manchester United striker Manucho gave Angola a seemingly comfortable advantage, only for Seydou Keita, Freddie Kanoute, Keita again and finally Mustapha Yattabare to complete a remarkable comeback.

It was galling for the hosts, though they still ultimately topped the group while Mali went out, but provided a welcome distraction from the horrifying events of days prior.

Zambia's greatest night

Nineteen years after the tragic plane crash that took the lives of all 30 passengers, including 18 players and the team coach of the national team, Zambia returned to Gabon to sensationally win the 2012 AFCON.

The team from 1993 had been on their way to a World Cup qualifier, in a reasonable position to qualify, when the old military plane they were on exploded over the Gulf of Guinea shortly after taking off from Libreville, Gabon. It was a devastating disaster that soured relations between Zambia and Gabon for years.

Fast-forward to 2011, and coach Herve Renard, who had been at the helm for the 2010 AFCON where Zambia were eliminated on penalties by Nigeria at the quarter-final stage, was brought back for another go ahead of the 2012 competition, which was to be held jointly by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

After winning the group, Zambia came through the quarter-final against Sudan with a routine 3-0 win, only for Ghana to await in the semi-final, who had captured the hearts of the world in their journey at the first ever World Cup held in Africa in 2010.

An Emmanuel Mayuka goal with 12 minutes remaining was enough to see them cause somewhat of an upset and advance to the final against arguably the strongest African side at the time, the Ivory Coast, in Libreville, just a few miles from the 1993 crash site.

Ahead of the game, the squad visited a beach nearby and sent an array of flowers floating out to sea.

The opponents' line-up included Premier League stars Salomon Kalou, Kolo and Yaya Toure, Didier Zokora and Didier Drogba, but a spirited young Zambia side matched them, taking them all the way to penalties after a goalless 120 minutes of football.

After seven successful penalties each, Zambia looked to have been handed their moment when Kolo Toure had his effort saved, only for Rainford Kalaba to shoot over.

However, when Gervinho did the same, it came down to Stoppila Sunzu, who smashed the ball into the net to win the trophy for his nation and seal a fitting tribute to those who were lost almost two decades earlier.

Liverpool are not worried about being without Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita while they are on Africa Cup of Nations duty, according to assistant Pep Lijnders.

The trio all played in Sunday's thrilling 2-2 Premier League draw with Chelsea in their final outing before linking up with their respective national sides.

Mane and Salah were both on target at Stamford Bridge as Liverpool raced into a two-goal lead, while Keita was introduced in the second half after Chelsea had levelled up through Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic.

Key attacking pair Salah and Mane have played in 26 of Liverpool's 29 matches this term – the joint-most of any Reds players, with Jordan Henderson (25) next on the list.

Between them, they have scored 33 of their side's 77 goals in 2021-22, while chipping in with a combined 10 assists.

Liverpool could now potentially be without both players, as well as midfielder Keita, until the second week of February depending on how far their countries advance at the Africa Cup of Nations.

But Lijnders, who filled in for Jurgen Klopp against Chelsea after the German tested positive for coronavirus, is confident others in the squad can now step up.

"You can try to plan it, but you can never prepare it," he said.

"It is not a worry because we have faith in the boys we have and a few boys are coming back as well.

"We know that certain players can play more offensively as well, they have been playing in midfield, but they can play more offensively as well."

Salah and Mane will link up with Egypt and Senegal respectively, while Keita is part of Guinea's squad for the tournament in Cameroon.

Losing three regulars during a hectic period in the season and with others out through coronavirus and injury is not ideal for Liverpool, but Lijnders has wished the trio well.

"I just told the boys that they should try to win the AFCON because it is a prize to catch and the careers are never long and they deserve to fight for each prize," Lijnders said.

"This prize now comes in front of them – it’s a tournament with so much passion, so much culture and it is a really proud situation if you can play for your country.

"If it's England or Germany or Holland or whoever, that's what they have and feel.

"So they are African legends, they are legends for me, but if they win it they will probably be even bigger legends so they should try with all they have to win it."

Roberto Firmino missed the Chelsea game after contracting COVID-19, while Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi are currently nursing injuries.

Asked when those players are expected to return to training, Lijnders said: "Let's see. 

"Some of the boys plan to be back, but they still didn't start team training, so we have to see."

Lijnders confirmed Klopp will still be absent for the first leg of Liverpool's EFL Cup semi-final tie with Arsenal on Thursday as he continues to self-isolate.

Liverpool have refused to release Mohamed Salah to play in Egypt's upcoming World Cup qualifier with Angola because of quarantine restrictions he would face on his return.

The Egyptian Football Association released a statement on Monday announcing that Liverpool had informed the governing body Salah would not be allowed to join his country at their camp for the fixtures with Angola on September 2 and Gabon on September 5.

"The Egyptian Football Association has received a letter from Liverpool FC apologising for the inability of its player, Mohamed Salah, to join the national team in its next camp, which includes facing Angola in Cairo and Gabon in Franceville during the first and second rounds of the African continent's qualifiers for the World Cup," the statement read.

"The English club's letter referred to the precautionary measures applied in England to confront the outbreak of the coronavirus in the world, which puts returnees from some countries in compulsory health isolation for a period of 10 days upon their return to England.

"In this letter, the English club also expressed its hope that the Egyptian Federation would understand that it was forced to do so, in the face of the player being subjected to a quarantine for this period and being affected by this physically, as well as the uncertainty of the conditions determined by the English authorities. It is reported that Liverpool FC took the same position with a number of its foreign players."

As Egypt is on the UK Government's travel red list, Salah would have to quarantine for 10 days upon his return from the camp, meaning he would miss Liverpool's Premier League fixture with Leeds United on September 12.

However, the club are reportedly happy for Salah to travel to Franceville for the game against Gabon, which is on the UK's amber list. Salah would not have to quarantine after visiting the country.

Liverpool and other members of the European Club Association (ECA) are said to have been seeking exemptions to allow their players to avoid quarantine, while the Egyptian FA has asked FIFA to try to resolve the issue.

Without exemptions, Liverpool are also expected to block Brazil internationals Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Fabinho from travelling for the Selecao's next round of qualifiers.

Brazil remains on the UK red list as one of the countries worst affected by the pandemic. Tite's men visit Chile before hosting Argentina on September 5.

Holders Algeria have been grouped alongside two-time winners Ivory Coast following the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations draw ceremony held in Yaounde on Tuesday.

The delayed event, which will be hosted in Cameroon from January 9 to February 6, features 24 teams for the second time with six groups of four.

Algeria, who triumphed in Egypt in 2019, are alongside 1992 and 2015 winners Ivory Coast as well as Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea in Group E.

Hosts Cameroon will open the tournament in Group A, where they were drawn alongside Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Cape Verde.

Record seven-time winners Egypt, who last lifted the title in 2010, are grouped with three-time champions Nigeria, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau in Group D.

Arsenal team-mates Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Thomas Partey will face off in Group C with Gabon and Ghana alongside first-timers Comoros and top seeds Morocco.

Debutants Gambia are alongside Tunisia, Mali and Mauritania in Group F, while 2019 runners-up Senegal are in Group B with Zimbabwe, Guinea and Malawi.

Africa Cup of Nations draw:

Group A: Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Cape Verde

Group B: Senegal, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Malawi

Group C: Morocco, Ghana, Comoros, Gabon

Group D: Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, Guinea-Bissau

Group E: Algeria, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast

Group F: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Gambia

Spain reached the semi-finals of the men's football tournament at the Tokyo Olympics after surviving an almighty scare against the Ivory Coast.

Manchester United defender Eric Bailly was a surprising opening goalscorer but Dani Olmo levelled before half-time at Miyagi Stadium.

Spain were the dominant force on the ball without finding a breakthrough, and it looked as though they were staring at a shock quarter-final exit when Max Gradel's deflected effort gave Ivory Coast the lead in injury time.

Incredibly, substitute Rafa Mir forced extra time two minutes later, scoring just 58 seconds after coming off the bench.

Spain at last went ahead when Oyarzabal swept home from the penalty spot, Bailly having been penalised for handball after a long VAR review.

Mir completed his hat-trick with two goals in the final three minutes to secure a 5-2 win and send Spain into the final four.

JAPAN STILL DREAMING

Spain will now meet Japan after the hosts battled past New Zealand in Kashima.

There was little to split the sides over 120 minutes, Japan out-shooting their opponents 21 to eight but unable to find a breakthrough.

At the other end, captain Maya Yoshida was the inspiration, posting the highest figures for duel success rate (80 per cent), aerial success rate (71.4 per cent) and blocks (three) of any starting player.

Fittingly, it was Yoshida who converted the final penalty after Liberato Cacace and Clayton Lewis had failed to score, giving Japan a 4-2 win in the shoot-out.

 

MEXICO WIN CLASSIC TO SET UP BRAZIL CLASH

Brazil's quest to defend the gold medal they won on home soil in 2016 will continue in a semi-final against Mexico.

A solitary goal from Matheus Cunha settled the quarter-final contest with Egypt in Saitama.

If that encounter was cagey, the showdown between Mexico and South Korea was anything but, as a nine-goal thriller was played out in Yokohama.

Mexico led 3-1 at half-time through goals from Henry Martin, Luis Romo and Sebastian Cordova, with Lee Dong-gyeong grabbing a lifeline.

A frenetic contest continued after the break as Lee made it 3-2 only for Martin and Cordova to score their second goals and stretch Mexico's advantage.

Substitute Eduardo Aguirre netted the sixth with six minutes of normal time remaining, Hwang Ui-jo scoring an injury-time consolation.

 

Real Madrid winger Takefusa Kubo was on target again as hosts Japan eliminated France from the Tokyo Olympics men's football tournament with a 4-0 win on Wednesday.

Kubo netted in Japan's first two Group A games and gave Madrid another reminder of his quality by opening the scoring against France in Yokohama.

In doing so, the 20-year-old became the first Japanese player to score in each group-stage match at the same Olympic tournament.

Hiroki Sakai doubled Japan's lead prior to half-time before Koji Miyoshi and Daizen Maeda completed the rout, either side of Randal Kolo Muani being sent off.

Japan advance as the only side with a 100 per cent record, whereas France – who had Timothee Pembele and Andre-Pierre Gignac in their line-up – are out at the first stage.

Only Fiji (23 in 2016) and Serbia-Montenegro (14 in 2004) have let in more than the 11 goals France conceded at Tokyo 2020 in the 21st century.

"The tournament was really difficult for us, because we are young players and these are the first games we have played with the team," France midfielder Alexis Beka Beka said. 

"One of the big differences was the other teams knew each other much better. But it's all about the details. The game is never finished."

Mexico recovered from their loss to Japan last time out by beating South Africa 3-0 in a game in which both sides had a player sent off, seeing them through in second place ahead of France.

 


SPAIN MATCH CLASS OF '92

Spain were not perfect in the pool phase, having been held for the second time in three games in Wednesday's clash with Argentina, but they still went through as Group C winners.

It is the first time La Roja have achieved that feat at the Olympic Games since the likes of Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique went on to win gold in Barcelona in 1992.

Spain dominated possession against Argentina and took the lead through Mikel Merino's 66th-minute strike at Saitama Stadium.

Tomas Belmonte's late equaliser came against the run of play, but it was not enough to prevent 2004 and 2008 gold medallists Argentina crashing out early on.

London 2012 quarter-finalists Egypt finished level on four points with Argentina after beating Australia 2-0 and progress to the last eight, where heavyweights Brazil await, by virtue of a superior goal difference.

HISTORIC ACHIEVEMENT FOR OLYWHITES

New Zealand picked up the point they needed against Romania in a goalless draw to advance to the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time.

Goalkeeper Michael Woud redeemed himself for his horror show in the loss to Honduras by making a string of stops against Romania, who would have advanced with a win.

"It really came down to desire tonight," said OlyWhites head coach Danny Hay. "The boys really dug deep and showed a lot of that.

"I'm really proud of the performance. It's historic and we look forward to a quarter-final for a New Zealand men's team."

New Zealand also needed a favour from South Korea, who followed up a 4-0 win against Romania with a 6-0 victory over Honduras on Wednesday en route to topping Group B.

Hwang Ui-jo scored three of the goals, two of those from the penalty spot, and a showdown with Mexico is up next for rampant South Korea for a place in the semi-finals.

RIO FINALISTS GERMANY FALL SHORT

Germany will not get the opportunity to match or better their silver medal from Rio in 2016 as a 1-1 draw with Ivory Coast saw their opponents through at their expense.

Nothing less than a win would do for Stefan Kuntz's men but they fell behind to a Benjamin Henrichs own goal with 67 minutes played.

While Eduard Lowen's impressive free-kick did set up a tense finish in Miyagi, Germany were unable to find a winner and are on the plane home.

Ivory Coast will now take on Spain, the last European nation standing, in the quarter-finals.

Also through to the knockout stage are reigning champions Brazil after seeing off Saudi Arabia 3-1, with Richarlison's late double adding to Matheus Cunha's first-half opener.

France got the better of South Africa in a seven-goal thriller as Andre-Pierre Gignac's hat-trick inspired Les Bleus to a 4-3 victory at the Tokyo Olympics.

Having been thrashed 4-1 by Mexico in their opening game of Group A, France hit back to keep their chances of progression alive, though they had to do so the hard way in Saitama.

Indeed, South Africa led on three occasions during a remarkable second half, yet it was Les Bleus who took the points.

Liberato Cacace's stunner was not enough to propel New Zealand to victory against Honduras in Group B, while reigning champions Brazil could only draw 0-0 with the Ivory Coast and Spain overcame Australia thanks to Mikel Oyarzabal's late winner.

 

GIGNAC AND SAVANIER SETTLE THRILLER

France were on the wrong end of conceding four last time out, and though they still let three in this time around, Teji Savanier's stoppage-time goal saw them clinch victory.

It was 35-year-old Gignac who had previously dragged France level on three occasions – a close-range finish followed by a thumping header before the Tigres striker, the leading scorer in the competition, converted his second penalty of the tournament to cancel out Teboho Mokoena's glorious 81st-minute strike.

Luther Singh had missed a first-half penalty for South Africa, with Kobamelo Kodisang and Evidence Makgopa also getting on the scoresheet.

But Gignac's efforts set the stage for France to nose themselves ahead when Montpellier's experienced Savanier lashed home, sending South Africa out in the process.

France sit third in Group A, three points behind leaders Japan, who survived a late scare to beat Mexico 2-1.

ALL WHITES LET LEAD SLIP

Cacace's exceptional strike put New Zealand ahead after just 10 minutes in Kashima – the defender picking out the top-right corner with a first-time effort from 30 yards out.

Luis Palma restored parity in first-half stoppage time, yet Chris Wood carried on his scoring form to put New Zealand back in front just after the restart.

Yet substitutes proved the difference for Honduras. Juan Obregon netted with 12 minutes remaining, paving the way for Rigoberto Rivas to clinch the comeback victory.

Matters were much more simple for South Korea, as they cruised to a 4-0 triumph against Romania, meaning all four Group B teams are on four points heading into the final matchday.

 

OYARZABAL RECORDS LONG-AWAITED SPAIN WIN

Spain secured their first win at an Olympic Games since 2000 thanks to Oyarzabal's header against Australia, which came with nine minutes of normal time remaining.

The 24-year-old Real Sociedad winger – who played a pivotal role in Spain's run to the semi-finals at Euro 2020 – has put La Roja top of Group C heading into Wednesday's encounter with Argentina, who beat Egypt.

Spain, who drew with Egypt in their opener, won gold in 1992 and silver in 2000, but had only qualified once since then, but they failed to score across their three appearances in the 2012 London Games.

CHAMPIONS HELD AS GERMANY BOUNCE BACK

Brazil sparkled in their 4-2 win over Germany on matchday one, though they could not find a way past the Ivory Coast, who held them to a 0-0 draw in Group D.

Douglas Luiz was sent off early on for Brazil, who missed a last-gasp chance to seal qualification through substitute Malcom after the Ivory Coast had also been reduced to 10 men.

Meanwhile, Germany recovered from their defeat on matchday one to beat Saudi Arabia 3-2 – Felix Uduokhai netting the decisive goal in the 75th minute.

Page 3 of 3
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.