31.07.2021 14:49 h

Mir hits hat-trick to send Spain into Olympic semi with Japan

Substitute Rafa Mir hit a hat-trick as Spain finally saw off Ivory Coast 5-2 in extra time in the Tokyo Olympics men's football on Saturday to set up a semi-final with hosts Japan.

Brazil defeated Egypt 1-0 thanks to a first-half strike by Matheus Cunha and will play either South Korea or Mexico in the other last-four clash.

The Spaniards are one of the gold medal favourites after naming a strong squad featuring six members of the team that reached the Euro 2020 semi-finals.

But they suffered a major fright before reaching the last four, even if the scoreline suggested otherwise.

Spain were just minutes from going out when forward Max Gradel's deflected strike made it 2-1 to the Ivorians in the 91st minute of normal time.

But the Spaniards responded almost immediately, Wolves forward Mir lashing in from close range to force extra time, just a minute after coming on.

Manchester United defender Eric Bailly then conceded a penalty for handball after the intervention of VAR, with Mikel Oyarzabal stroking the ball in for a 3-2 Spain lead in the 98th minute.

Mir struck twice in the dying minutes to put extra gloss on the scoreline.

Japan's quarter-final with New Zealand was a far tighter affair with the score deadlocked at 0-0 after 120 minutes.

The hosts kept their nerve in the penalty shootout and the Kiwis missed twice from the spot, sending Japan through 4-2 on penalties.