Argentina beat out Brazil in heavyweight showdown

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Argentina crushed South American neighbours and biggest rivals Brazil 3-0 in a heavyweight semi-final encounter to earn a place in the Olympic final against Nigeria. It means that Brazil, despite being five-time World Cup winners, must extend their wait for their first Olympic gold for another four years.

Watched by Diego Maradona from the VIP box, the defending champions broke the deadlock seven minutes into the second half when a left-wing cross from Ángel Di Maria deflected off Sergio Agüero's stomach and flew into the net.

Six minutes later, an unmarked Agüero easily netted his second goal from close range before captain Juan Román Riquelme killed off the game with a 76th minute penalty.

Brazil's frustration boiled over in the last 10 minutes when Lucas and Thiago Neves were both red-carded within three minutes for ugly fouls on Javier Mascherano.

In the other semifinal, 1996 Olympic champions Nigeria advanced to the final after rip Belgium apart to win 4-1. Belgium failed to reproduce the level at which it performed against Italy in the quarterfinal match.

Olubayo Adefemi scored the opening goal for Nigeria with a low drive after 17 minutes.

Victor Anichebe set up Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi for Nigeria's second in the 59th minute, and Obasi added his tally 18 minutes from time with a powerful long-range strike.

And Chibuzor Okonkwo made it 4-0 with another long-range effort six minutes later, before substitute Laurent Ciman wracked a late consolation for Belgium.

Argentina will face Nigeria for the Olympic gold medal in the final on Saturday, a repeat of the 1996 final which the Africans won to take the gold medal to their continent for the first time. While Brazil will take on Belgium in the bronze medal match on Friday.

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