Rio 2016: Portugal stun two-time gold medalist Argentina

Portugal player Paciencia (#9) celebrates after scoring against Argentina, during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games men’s First Round Group D football match Portugal vs Argentina, at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / VANDERLEI ALMEIDA

Portugal marked their return to the Olympic Football Tournament after a 12-year absence with a 2-0 victory over two-time gold medalist Argentina at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.

Goncalo Paciencia grabbed the opener before substitute Pite’s long distance effort found its way in after an error from Geronimo Rulli in the Argentina goal.

Bruno Fernandes was one of the busier players on the pitch, right from the first whistle. In the opening seconds, the Portuguese No10 had the ball in the Argentinian net, but it was ruled out for offside.

After a rather quiet opening period, the game sprung into action in the opening moments of the second half, when Jonathan Calleri was set free by Jose Luis Gomez. The new West Ham United forward dinked the ball over the onrushing Bruno Varela, but his shot hit the crossbar and spun away. La Albiceleste did then find the net, but Mauricio Martinez was adjudged offside.

Moments later, Portugal would have an effort rippling the net that troubled those in charge of the scoreboard. After good movement down the Portuguese left, the ball was worked inside to Paciencia, who had space and time to compose himself before slamming a low left-footed shot past Geronimo Rulli.

The Argentina ‘keeper was called upon twice more in quick succession, denying Bruno Fernandes and then Salvador Agra with some fine shot-stopping.

Rulli’s match will unfortunately be remembered for allowing the seemingly harmless Pite effort from distance to squirm through his grasp and into the net.

Portugal were cheered on by a large number of their Portuguese-speaking cousins in Rio. They will likely be able to count on their support for Sunday’s game against the day’s other victors Honduras at the Olympic Stadium, with Argentina hoping to recover from this defeat against Algeria later that day.