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Nigeria beat Japan 5-4 in the first round of the Rio 2016 football tournament, while Neymar-inspired Brazil, title defenders Mexico and two-time gold medallists Argentina all started without a win.
Brazil were held to a shock 0-0 draw by 10-man South Africa in the opening game of their campaign in Brasilia. The hosts, who have never won the Olympic Games gold medal, could not take advantage after their opponents had defender Mothobi Mvala sent off with 31 minutes left. Gabriel Jesus hit the post minutes later. The surprise result has put pressure on coach Rogerio Micale's side to beat Iraq on Sunday. Brazil’s next opponents drew 0-0 with Denmark in the other group A game.
"All matches are decisive. Today's match was also. Unfortunately we could not score a goal. We did not play the way we wanted, but now we have to analyse the details and talk between us to fix everything,” said Neymar.
"We cannot fall, everything is part of the process. It is not so important how you start, the important is how it ends. We can improve, move forward and try to correct our mistakes, but the most important thing for us is to recover as soon as possible,” Brazil coach Micale talked of his next steps.
Nigeria were caught up in flight delays on their way to Rio, but made up for lost time by notching up a 5-4 victory, helped by four goals from Oghenekaro Etebo, including one from the penalty spot. Japan launched a brave comeback bid after trailing 5-2 but left themselves with too much to do, despite two goals in the last 20 minutes. Nigeria lead group B after Sweden drew 2-2 with Colombia.
Defending champions Mexico also drew 2-2 with Germany in group C while Republic of Korea thrashed Fiji 8-0. Seven of the goals came in the second-half, including three in two minutes.
Portugal launched their campaign with a 2-0 victory over Argentina at the Olympic Stadium while Honduras edged a five-goal thriller 3-2 against Algeria in the other group D game.
"We have a compact and aggressive team but when we were looking for the goal we were tense. There were four clear chances that we had on goal but we did not take them and our rivals were more clinical. We have a balanced team and hopefully history will turn around for us in the group and we can still qualify for the next stage. But we will have to take our chances which we did not do in this game,” said Argentina coach Julio Olarticoechea after the defeat to Portugal.