Ronaldinho was back to his best as he led Brazil on a 5-0 romp
over New Zealand Sunday to confirm their quarter-final berth in Olympic men's
football along with Argentina and Italy.
The tournament's big three cannot be denied winning their groups with one pool
match remaining but the Netherlands last gasp draw with the United States left
three teams in with a chance to take the two berths from Group B.
Only two points separates the co-leaders United States and Nigeria from the
Netherlands and the US and Nigeria are still to play each other.
The Netherlands were staring at defeat and the prospect of having to beat Japan
by a wide margin in their final pool game when a Gerald Sibon free kick three
minutes into stoppage time reversed their fortunes.
Nigeria, who earlier drew with the Netherlands, posted their first win of the
tournament Sunday when they beat Japan 2-1.
Ronaldinho delighted his legion of fans, scoring twice as he led Brazil to an
untroubled 5-0 win over minnows New Zealand to remain unbeaten in pool C.
The Brazilian captain, a clear favourite with the large crowd, was at the heart
of nearly every decisive move as New Zealand struggled to stay in the match.
Brazil coach Dunga also warned Ronaldinho will only get better as the tournament
"Finally, we start to see his smile. Not everybody knows that he hadn't played
an official game for four months, but a talented player like him will retrieve
his form very fast," Dunga said.
In the other pool C match China's underchievers went down in a tame 2-0 defeat
to Belgium who must now beat New Zealand to remain in the tournament.
China's wafer-thin hope rests on them beating New Zealand and New Zealand
upsetting Belgium which on present form is unlikely.
Masterful Lionel Messi inspired Argentina to a hard-fought 1-0 win over a gutsy
Australia Sunday, with Napoli's Ezequiel Lavezzi scoring the decisive goal
following waves of pressure.
The Barcelona superstar was the driving force as Argentina look to win
back-to-back Olympic gold.
They now have two wins out of two in Group A where the second qualifier is
likely to come from the Australia-Ivory Coast match on Wednesday after Ivory
Coast beat Serbia 4-2 in Shanghai on Sunday.
Italy took an unbeatable two-from-two stranglehold on Group D when they soundly
beat South Korea 3-0, while Cameroon put themselves in the box seat to also
qualify when they beat Honduras for their first win.
Cameroon are three points clear of South Korea who will need a substantial win
over Honduras in their remaining match to stay in the competition.