London: Brazil secured their position as Group C winners and maintained their 100 per cent record in the Olympics after beating New Zealand 3-0 thanks to goals from Danilo, Leandro Damiao and Sandro.
Mano Menezes` side took the lead in the 23rd minute through Danilo after great attacking move culminated in a one-two with Damiao leaving the midfielder with a simple finish past Michael O`Keeffe, and it was two shortly after as after another sublime bit of play the Internacional striker who slotted the ball into the net.
Tottenham midfielder Sandro added a third just after half-time with a powerful strike into the bottom corner while the only negative to come from the game for Brazil was when Alex Sandro was sent off for two bookable offences.
After securing their qualification from Group C after beating Belarus in their last game Menezes rested several players including keeper Neto, Romulo, Oscar, Hulk and Alexandre Pato. In came Porto duo Danilo and Alex Sandro, Lucas Moura, Damiao and keeper Gabriel.
New Zealand coach Neil Emblen made kept an unchanged team from his side that drew 1-1 with Egypt. West Brom striker Chris Wood, who scored in that game, continued to lead the line alongside strike partner Shane Smeltz.
Brazil started the game well and immediately controlled possession with accurate passing and good movement. Neymar showed his predatory instincts to get behind the All Whites` defence and slot past O`Keeffe but was frustratingly ruled offside as he wheeled away in celebration.
The Santos forward was again in the action moments later and should have given his side the lead after great work from Marcelo, who beat two men before crossing for Neymar, but he was unable to get good contact on the ball from eight yards out and his effort went harmlessly past the post.
After weathering the early storm from Selecao, Emblen`s side began to grow in confidence and started to take the attack to the Brazilians, Rojas producing a decent effort after a lovely run down the left but his shot was comfortably held by Gabriel.
New Zealand committed more men forward but this was to cost them as Brazil hit them on the break and took the lead through Danilo. The Porto man played a sublime one-two with Damiao on the edge of the Kiwi box and cooly slotted the ball past O`Keeffe.
Menezes` side doubled their lead minutes later through Damiao after another excellent move. Marcelo hit a delightful backheeled pass to Alex Sandro setting him free in the box, he then squared the ball for Internacional striker who was left with a simple tap-in into an empty net.
Brazil seemed content knocking the ball around and waiting patiently for chances to come rather than force the issue as the half wore on. Neymar and Damiao had half-chances but neither threatened O`Keeffe in the Kiwi goal.
Selecao came out in the second half with the same tempo they had in the first and quickly settled into their passing game as the All Whites sat back to absorb the pressure.
Brazil seemed very comfortable and duly got their third goal through Sandro, who coasted in at the back post, latching onto to a free kick from Marcelo and rifling into the bottom corner.
The Selecao should have extended their lead when they hit the Kiwis on a counterattack, Rafael raiding down the right and crossing for Neymar, who only had to tap the ball into an empty net - yet somehow he blazed the ball over the bar.
The only blight on the game for the Brazilians came when Alex Sandro was sent off for two bookable offences by referee Bakary Gassama?, receiving his second yellow for diving in the penalty area, despite it appearing that the midfielder had gone down under contact.
After being reduced to 10 men, Menezes` men opted to play defensively in order to keep their shape. However, Marcelo almost made it four when tried to lob O`Keeffe from the edge of the area but his effort went just past the post.
Despite playing with a numerical advantage, New Zealand could not muster anything going forward and succumbed to their second defeat of the tournament as Brazil advanced to the quarter-finals as winners of Group C.
First Published: Thursday, August 02, 2012, 09:04