(NAN) Dream Team VI of Nigeria still topped Group B of the Rio 2016 Olympics men’s football event in Sao Paulo in spite of a 2-0 loss to Colombia on Wednesday.
Nigeria thus advanced to Saturday’s quarter-finals after six points from three matches, having scored six goals and conceded six, with Colombia picking the runners-up spot with five points.
Nigeria’s opponents in the quarter-final will be Denmark who came second to Brazil in Group A, despite being whacked 4-0 by Brazil. Colombia’s reward for coming second in Group be will be a date with hosts Brazil.
A first-half strike from captain Teofilo Gutierrez and a second-half penalty kick from Dorlan Pabon ensured the South Americans joined Nigerians in the quarter-finals.
Needing a win to secure their place in the last eight, it was Colombia who took an early lead through Gutierrez.
Pabon’s fine forward ball from the left flank picked out the unmarked Sporting Lisbon striker at the top of the Nigeria penalty box.
Gutierrez then applied a neat volleyed finish to beat goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi and give Colombia a fourth minute advantage.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the early goal gave Colombia the confidence to attack Nigeria’s backline and create more quality chances.
In the 19th minute, Akpeyi denied Harold Preciado’s close-range header before Pabon caused another scare for Nigeria after getting in behind the defence before shooting wide.
The Group B winners then created chances of their own before the break, with the best of Nigeria’s opportunities coming in the 28th minute.
This was when Oghenekaro Etebo put Sadiq Umar’s low cross wide of the far post in the Colombia penalty box.
Etebo also tested Cristian Bonilla with a well-hit free-kick that was blocked away by the legs of the Colombia goalkeeper.
Colombia’s determination to reach the knockout stages was reflected in their willingness to extend their lead after half-time.
Just after the hour mark, they were rewarded with a penalty kick after Akpeyi took down Preciado in the Nigeria penalty box.
Pabon stepped up to drive the spot kick home and double Colombia’s advantage.
Colombia could have had a third goal in the 73rd minute but Preciado was unable to find the target from close range after controlling
Gutierrez’s pinpoint cross from the left.
NAN reports that Colombia will play their quarter-final clash in Sao Paulo on Saturday, while Nigeria travels to Salvador for their last eight encounter.
*Following are the pairings for the quarter-finals round of the Rio Olympics men’s football event, with the matches scheduled for Saturday:
Portugal vs Germany in Brasilia at the Estadio Nacional at 13.00hrs
Nigeria vs Denmark in Salvador at the Arena Fonte Nova at 16.00hrs
Korea Republic vs Honduras in Belo Horizonte at the Estadio Mineirao at 19.00hrs
Brazil vs Colombia in Sao Paulo at the Arena Corinthians at 22.00hrs