Marco Asensio’s superb extra-time winner sealed Spain’s Olympic football final berth where they will clash with Brazil for the gold medal. The Real Madrid winger came off the bench as a substitute to net the only goal of the game in the 115th minute to knock out hosts Japan in the semifinal match.
“We knew it was going to be difficult against a good team that was having a great tournament. We knew what we had to do and with patience, effort and hard work the reward had to come,” Asensio said. The 25-year-old winger is one of three players in the squad over the age of 24 permitted at the Olympics. This is going to be Spain’s attempt towards their first gold medal in the event since 1992.
La Roja’s only Olympic title came at home at the 1992 Barcelona Games, while the country’s last final was at the 2000 Sydney Games, losing to Cameroon. Six of Luis Enrique’s squad from Euro 2020, which Spain reached the semi-final in before losing to eventual winners Italy, were included in Luis de la Fuente’s squad for the Olympic Games.
Spain will take on the reigning men’s football champion, Brazil, who won 4-1 on penalties against Mexico after a goalless 120 minutes in Kashima. The Selacao goalkeeper Santos saved Eduardo Aguirre’s penalty in a shootout before Johan Vasquez hit the post with Mexico’s second attempt. Reinier converted the winning kick to send Brazil into a third successive Olympic final.
Brazil, who lost the Copa America final to Argentina last month, will play in the final without their talisman Neymar, whose penalty clinched gold at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. “Spain is coming with its maximum force,” Brazil coach Andre Jardine said. “They’ve formed a strong team over the course of the tournament.”
Meanwhile, Japan will face Mexico in the bronze medal play-off in Saitama. Mexico, who beat Brazil to win gold at London 2012, won their only gold in men’s football medal at London 2012, while Japan have earned a solitary bronze, in Mexico City in 1968.
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