Created on 23-08-2008 at 00:00 AM
As of Saturday, Bayern boast an Olympic gold medallist in their ranks after José Ernesto Sosa and his Argentina team-mates won the Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing with a 1-0 victory over Nigeria, retaining the medal they won in Athens four years earlier. There was a happy end to the event for Breno too as Brazil claimed bronze with a 3-0 win over Belgium in the third-place play-off on Friday.
An 89,102 crowd at the National Stadium on Saturday saw Angel Di Maria net the only goal after 58 minutes of the final, in which Sosa came on as a 79th minute substitute. “Our young players did very well. This is a great day for the people of Argentina, and for the development of the game there,” Argentine coach Sergio Batista commented afterwards.
The fierce heat and humidity in Beijing affected the flow of the game at the start. Indeed, such was the concern over potential health problems for the players, referee Viktor Kassai (Hungary) stopped the match in both the first and second halves for drinks breaks.
Despite the heat, Argentina began the livelier of the sides. Nigeria, who defeated the South Americans to take the 1996 Olympic gold medal, sat deep and restricted their opponents to half-chances. The Africans’ skipper Promise Isaac in fact missed the first clear-cut opening (34), before Di Maria whistled a shot narrowly over the bar on the stroke of half-time.
A stroke of genius from superstar Lionel Messi ultimately settled the issue. The Barcelona man brilliantly released Di Maria for a lob over onrushing Nigeria keeper Ambruse Vanzekin. The game picked up pace now as Nigeria pressed for an equaliser and Argentina looked to counter-attack. The Albiceleste ultimately sealed the spoils with a mixture of skill and good fortune.
On Friday, the Games came to a winning end for Bayern’s second Olympian Breno. The 18-year-old Brazil defender claimed bronze with the Selecao thanks to a 3-0 victory over underdogs Belgium. Carlos Dunga’s side, comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Argentina in the semi-finals, won the third-place play-off courtesy of goals from Bremen’s Diego (27) and new Manchester City signing Jo (45, 90+2).