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Argentina to face Nigeria in final
BEIJING, AUG 19 (Agencies):
Published on 20 Aug. 2008 1:04 AM IST
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Sergio Aguero scored two goals and Juan Riquelme also tallied as Argentina used a dominant second half to blow past Brazil, 3-0, in the semifinals on Tuesday. Aguero's goals came six minutes apart early after the intermission as Argentina denied Brazil a chance to go for its first gold medal in the event. The defending gold medalist, Argentina will face Nigeria in Saturday's gold-medal match. The Brazilians, who have won a record five World Cups, had outscored their opponents, 11-0, in their previous four games before struggling to stop Argentina. After a closely played first half, Argentina broke through in the 52nd minute when Aguero re-directed a hard cross from Angel Di Maria with his chest - and his arm - into the net from five yards away. Minutes after Rafael Sobis hit the post for Brazil, Aguero gave Argentina a 2-0 lead, touching home another cross by Ezequiel Garay from five yards out. The play was set up by Lionel Messi, who made a run into the middle of the penalty area and sent a pass to Garay down the right side of the 18-yard box. Brazil had another close call when Ronaldinho's free kick blasted off the left post in the 65th minute. Alexandre Pato put home a goal off the rebound but was whistled offsides. Riquelme made it a 3-0 game with a penalty-kick goal in the 76th minute, and frustration started to set in for Brazil, which had two players sent off in the game's final 10 minutes on straight red cards. In the earlier semifinal, Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi scored two goals as Nigeria had little problem with upstart Belgium, cruising into the finals with a 4-1 victory. Olubayo Adefimi and Chibuzor Okonkwo also scored for the Nigerians, who have guaranteed themselves their second-ever medal in the event. The African nation won the gold in 1996. From start to finish, Nigeria outplayed Belgium, which had advanced after upsetting World Cup champion Italy in the quarterfinals. Adefimi opened the scoring in the 17th minute when the rebound of a long shot bounced right to him on the left side of the penalty area, and the striker placed a perfect shot in the lower right-hand corner to give Nigeria a 1-0 lead. Belgium's best chance to score came early in the second half when a wide-open Faris Haroun received a pass in the middle of the penalty area. But Haroun's one-timer was deflected off the crossbar by Nigeria's diving goalkeeper Ambruse Vanzekin and went out of bounds. In the 59th minute, Ogbuke Obasi doubled the advantage when he knocked home a cross from 10 yards away, while the Belgium defense argued for offsides. Ogbuke Obasi also gave Nigeria a 3-0 lead in the 72nd minute with a brilliant right-footed strike from 30 yards away into the left side of the net. Okonkwo added to the lead with another goal six minutes later. Laurent Ciman tallied in the 88th minute to snap the shutout for Belgium, which has not medaled in the event since 1920. Belgium will go for the bronze on Friday when it plays Brazil.

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