Arsenal’s Serge Gnabry became the Olympics’ top scorer as Germany ended Portugal’s hopes of adding gold to a glorious 2016 with a 4-0 thrashing to reach the Rio 2016 semi-finals on Saturday.
Victory takes Germany one step closer to a mouthwatering rematch with hosts Brazil in next Saturday’s final two years on from smashing the five-time world champions 7-1 on home soil at the 2014 World Cup.
Brazil resume their quest for a maiden football gold medal in a South American grudge match with Colombia in Sao Paulo later on Saturday.
Next up for Germany is a semi-final with Nigeria in Salvador on Wednesday after the Africans overcame off-field squabbles over unpaid allowances to beat Denmark 2-0 thanks to goals from Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel and Aminu Umar.
“I’m not surprised. I have said from the beginning with more games the better we will get as a team,” said Gnabry.
“Horst (Hrubesch) is a super coach. He has prepared us very well.
“His tactics are very good and you can see he believes in us.” The world champions’ greater experience told with the Portuguese squad ravaged by clubs not releasing players for the Games and a number of their stars from the under-21s having gone onto win Euro 2016 with the senior side in France last month.
Germany also exacted revenge for a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Portugal in last year’s under-21 European championships.
“After losing 4-0, it is absurd to mention that we fulfilled the task, but in several days, when we see what we did, perhaps we (will) see that we have done good work,” said Portugal boss Rui Jorge, after knocking out Argentina to reach the last eight.
Gnabry has been a player reborn in Brazil after a couple of years blighted by injury and lack of first-team opportunities at Arsenal.
The 21-year-old scored his sixth goal in four games when he coolly slotted home Julian Brandt’s inch-perfect pass to open the scoring in first-half stoppage time.
“I think so,” said Gnabry when quizzed if he was enjoying the best few weeks of his young career.
“I have had a lot of good training sessions over the summer.” Mathias Ginter is the only member of the Germany team who was also part of the World Cup winning squad two years ago having showed his commitment to the cause by flying 20,000km from Borussia Dortmund’s pre-season tour in China to Brazil for the Games.
Ginter powered home a corner to put the game beyond Portugal just before the hour mark for his second goal of the tournament.
Brandt, though, was the German’s standout performer as he teed up Davie Selke and finally Philipp Max to fire into the top corner and round off a comprehensive drubbing in Brasilia to take Germany’s tally to 19 goals in just four games in Brazil.
Gold medallists in 1996, Nigeria have reached the last four despite organisational chaos off the field.
The players had threatened to boycott the quarter-final in Salvador over unpaid allowances, whilst coach Samson Siasia has threatened to quit, claiming he hasn’t been paid his salary “for the past five months.” “We have been disrespected from all angles — by the sports ministry, the Nigeria Football Federation. Is that how you will treat your own children? We are not street kids,” said Siasia.
Nigeria arrived in Brazil just hours before their opening 5-4 win over Japan last week after being stranded for several days at their training base in Atlanta because the Federation hadn’t booked flight tickets in advance.
South Korea, bronze medallists in 2012, face Honduras in the other quarter-final in Belo Horizonte.
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