An emphatic 10-0 obliteration of Fiji was not enough to see Germany qualify as group winners as South Korea saw off Mexico.
Going into the final round of games in Group C of Rio 2016’s Olympic football, there were a number of permutations which could determine who progressed. Germany knew that a nine-goal victory over Fiji as well as a stalemate between South Korea and Mexico would send them through as group winners, so we were always set for something of a one-sided affair.
The game had been going for barely five minutes when one of Germany’s star players, Julian Brandt, squared for his fellow attacker Serge Gnabry to steer home the first. Six minutes later, Brandt was instrumental again; his low drive spilled by Simione Tamanisau in the Fijian goal and the rebound tucked home by Nils Petersen. The third stemmed from a canny pass between the lines by Lars Bender, and a smart, low finish from captain Max Meyer.
More incisive passing led to the fifth, as marauding left-back Lukas Klostermann was threaded through and his cross found the head of Petersen. The latter completed his hat-trick five minutes before halftime, tapping in a cross from the hugely impressive Brandt. Harrowingly, this wasn’t to be the end of Fiji’s half of horror; a foul on the edge of their own box led to Gnabry fizzing the resulting free-kick into the bottom corner.
Fifteen minutes of merciful relief for Fiji was followed by business as usual from the relentless Germans. Meyer got his second after some nimble footwork, before a rather amusing series of events led to Germany’s eighth goal. After Gnabry’s shot struck the bar and came out off the turf, there was a brief moment of confusion as to whether it had gone in – Meyer capitalised on this by lashing home a volley to complete a hat-trick of his own.
And then finally, just before the hour mark, a moment to smile about for Fiji. Having been awarded a penalty, Meyer stepped up and struck a low, tame spot-kick into the palms of Tamanisau, who also kept out the rebound. It was, however, just a moment. Petersen dispatched a penalty ten minutes later to make it nine, before nodding home a looping header to give put Fiji’s deficit into double figures. In doing so, he became the tournament’s joint top scorer in his first and only game at the Rio Olympics.
Staggeringly, Germany’s goal rush was still not enough to secure top spot in Group C after South Korea snuck past Mexico 1-0. Spirits are bound to be high after such an emphatic win, but there will surely be a sense that more disciplined defending in their previous games, particularly against South Korea, would have seen them advance as group winners.