Gabigol rescues Brazil from shame
BRAZIL'S newest football hero Gabriel Barbosa hailed a night of "fantasy" after scoring twice to fend off a humiliating early Olympic exit on home soil with a 4-0 win over Denmark on Wednesday.
The in-demand Barbosa, nicknamed Gabigol for his prolific exploits for Santos, broke Brazil's 200-minute goal drought after goalless draws with Iraq and South Africa to get their quest for a first football gold medal back on track.
"We showed a lot of patience, that was important and the fantasy arrived," said Barbosa, a top target for a host of European clubs, with Premier League champions Leicester City at the head of the queue.
Manchester City's new recruit Gabriel Jesus then volleyed home a second before Luan and Barbosa's second rounded off a comforting night for a relieved home nation.
Victory was also enough to guarantee top spot in Group A to set up a quarter-final meeting with Colombia on Saturday.
Brazil are now unbeaten in 14 games in Salvador and received a warmer welcome on and off the pitch in the north-east than for their previous two games in Brasilia with temperatures nearing 30 deg C warming an enthusiastic crowd.
Neymar had gone from Brazil's golden boy to whipping boy in the past week with the national team's women's captain Marta usurping him as the hosts' darling after a series of sensational displays.
However, he shone in a supporting role for Brazil's other attacking starlets to get the goals.
The sigh of relief was almost audible across the country when "Gabigol" bundled home Douglas Santos' low cross with his shin on 26 minutes.
Jesus had admitted to having "sleepless nights" after missing golden chances in both opening games.
"Tonight, we will sleep soundly," said the 19-year-old who joined City for £27 million (S$47 million) from Palmeiras earlier this month.