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Argentina secures spot at Paris Olympics

CARACAS (AP) — Argentina secured its spot at the Paris Olympics men’s soccer tournament by beating defending champion Brazil 1-0 on Sunday, a result which also eliminated its bitter rival.

In the decisive South American Olympic qualifier, Leandro Goudou scored the winner for the Argentina Under-23 team coached by Javier Mascherano. He headed a cross from Valentin Barco past goalkeeper Mycael in the 78th minute at the Brigido Iriarte Stadium in Caracas.

Brazil won gold at men’s soccer in the Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo Olympics.

South America’s Olympic qualifying for men’s soccer offers two spots in Paris, with the remaining berth to be decided later Sunday when Paraguay and Venezuela face off. Argentina finished its final group stage campaign with five points in three matches and cannot be overtaken by the other teams.

Argentina had the upper hand in the first half but the defensive stance of Brazil, coached by Ramon Menezes, didn’t help bring much emotion to the match. World Cup winner Thiago Almada hit the post in the 16th minute.

Argentina’s Leandro Brey made the best save of the game in the 61st, when substitute Gabriel Pec struck hard from close range. Brazil did not keep up the pressure, with striker Endrick once more playing below par.

Brazil last failed to make the men’s soccer Olympic tournament in 2004.

“It is a very bad feeling, we prepared well for this,” Brazil midfielder Andrey Santos said. “We struggled to keep the ball throughout the tournament. It didn’t go as we expected.”

Argentina’s Luciano Gondou celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Brazil during South America’s under-23 pre-Olympic tournament soccer match at Brigido Iriarte stadium in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday. PHOTO: AP
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