Brazil continued their impressive record of scoring three goals in every game of the Olympics so far, but were made to sweat as they negotiated their way past a nine-man Honduras 3-2.
A Seleção were behind twice , thanks to Mario Martinez and Roger Espinoza, but a Leandro Damiao brace and Neymar penalty were enough to see Brazil into a semi-final against either Great Britain or Korea Republic.
The favourites started out brightly, fashioning a number of chances early on. Inside the first minute Leandro Damiao retained his own flick-on and curled a shot wide as Jose Mendoza rushed out, before Neymar and Oscar broke into the box – but the latter’s shot was blocked.
The pair were at it again minutes later, with the Chelsea new-boy’s beautifully weighted chipped through ball being well controlled by Neymar, but Arnold Peralta and Mendoza combined to dispossess him.
And having dominated the opening ten minutes Honduras hit the big-guns with a sucker punch. Espinoza, a pivotal figure in their group successes, fired the ball to Maynor Figueroa at the edge of the box, whose heavy touch fell kindly to Martinez. He made no mistake, slicing a volley past Gabriel into the far top corner.
Brazil looked stunned, with the goal robbing them of all their early impetus, swagger and creativity. It took 15 minutes for them to craft their next chance, with Oscar again instrumental, this time setting up Leandro Damiao, but Mendoza was equal to it.
However the balance of the game shifted massively when Honduras were reduced to ten men. Crisanto was booked for going in late on Hulk, before doing so again less than a minute on Neymar to receive his second yellow card. Brazil instantly went about making their numerical advantage count, as Leandro then Oscar forced Mendoza to act smartly, but their next chance proved to be decisive.
Hulk drove into the right side of the penalty area and, as Mendoza raced wide to meet him, drilled in a low cross. Two Honduran defenders failed to clear and Leandro epitomised his predatory reputation by tackling the ball in.
Mendoza was called into action soon after, beating away Marcelo’s fierce 25-yard drive, but further pressure proved fruitless as Honduras made it to the break on terms, and flew out of the traps when they returned.
Espinosa cut inside Juan on the right flank and sent a left-footed shot perfectly into the far bottom corner to put Honduras ahead again, but they held the lead for no time at all. Leandro Damiao was brought down in the box by Vasquez on the very next Brazil attack, with Neymar emphatically dispatching the penalty.
With two goals in the first five minutes, it only took another ten for Brazil to strike again, taking the lead for the first time. Leandro Damiao bagged his fourth of the tournament after turning superbly in the box, having been fed by Neymar, to slot into the bottom left-hand corner.
Brazil almost let Honduras back in though, with Martinez’s corner causing mayhem in the box as Gabriel misjudged its flight, with Espinoza’s effort deflected over. Ultimately though Brazil eased their way to victory, and their job was made a little simpler in the closing minutes as Espinoza was sent off for two bookings.