Argentina, Brazil and Italy reach quarter-finals

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South American giants Argentina and Brazil remained on course for a semi-final showdown in the men's Olympic football competition as they qualified for the last eight with 100 percent records.

Brazil topped Group C by winning its three matches by a combined score of 9-0. Brazil, seeking its first Olympic gold, expelled host China in Qinhuangdao with a pair of goals by Thiago Neves and another by Diego. Seleção play Cameroon in Saturday's quarterfinals.

In Beijing, Argentina, who rested most of their top players including Lionel Messi, beat Serbia 2-0 despite an extraordinary double-penalty miss by Angel Di Maria. Watched by NBA star Kobe Bryant, who said he wanted to see Messi in action, the defending champions' goals came from an Ezequiel Lavezzi penalty in the 13th minute and a free-kick from Diego Buonanotte. Argentina take on the Netherlands in the quarter-finals.

In Tianjin, a goal from Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou in the 81st minute gave Ivory Coast a 1-0 win over Australia to qualify as runner-up in Group A . The Ivorians clash an African showdown with Nigeria in the next round.

In Shanghai, Belgium joined the group leader Brazil in the next round after defeating New Zealand on a 35th-minute winner by Faris Haroun. Belgium will play Italy in the last eight.

Earlier in Beijing, Nigeria controversially beat the United States 2-1 to reach the knockout stages. The U.S. played with 10 men from the third minute when defender Michael Orozco was sent off for elbowing Nigerian forward Solomon Okoronkwo. Although virtually no contact was made the Nigerian went down theatrically.

In Shenyang, Gerald Sibon kept the Netherlands, a pre-tournament favorite, in the Olympic by scoring a second-half penalty kick in his side's 1-0 win over Japan. That was his second back-breaking goal after the 93rd minute goal of Sunday's 2-2 with the U.S.

In Tianjin, Italy and Cameroon both progressed to the quarter-finals after a goalless draw which saw the African side play with 10 men since the 21st minute and also missed a penalty. Azzurrini goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano saved a penalty kick early in the match to help his team finish top of the group. Cameroon would have topped the group with a victory.

In Shanghai, South Korea's 1-0 victory over Honduras through a goal by defender Kim Dong-Jin in the 23rd minute was not enough to send the Koreans through to the quarter-finals.

The quarter-final matches will be played on Saturday.

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