Richarlison hits hat-trick in Brazil win

Brazil's Richarlison celebrates his hat-trick against Germany.
Brazil's Richarlison celebrates his hat-trick against Germany.

France's Olympic men's soccer campaign has got off to a dreadful start with a 4-1 thrashing by Mexico while Brazil striker Richarlison scored the first hat-trick of the tournament as the defending champions held off a late rally from Germany in a 4-2 win at Yokohama's International Stadium.

While Australia's Olyroos were kicking off their campaign on Thursday with a famous 2-0 win over Argentina, hosts Japan also made a winning start with a late strike from midfielder Takefusa Kubo in a 1-0 victory over South Africa, who were dealing with COVID-19 cases on the eve of the Group A match.

Everton striker Richarlison scored his treble in the first half-hour as Brazil started their bid for back-to-back Olympic football golds with a handsome win over the 10-man Germans.

Richarlison tapped the first in the seventh, headed home in the 22nd and completed the treble in the 30th against a shaky German defence in a rematch of the 2016 gold medal game that Brazil had won on penalties.

Bayer Leverkusen's Paulinho wrapped up matters in stoppage time for Brazil, who also had a penalty from Matheus Cunha in the 45th saved by Florian Mueller on a sticky night in Yokohama.

The Germans fought back within one from Nadiem Amiri in the 53rd and Ragnar Ache in the 83rd but also had captain Maximilian Arnold sent off in the 62nd for a second bookable offence.

It was a day to forget for Sylvain Ripoll's France who collapsed in the second half when Alexis Vega, Sebastian Cordova, Uriel Antuna and Erick Aguirre netted for Mexico at the Tokyo Stadium.

France, chasing a first Olympic medal since winning gold in 1984, now face a daunting task to qualify from Group A ahead of games against South Africa and hosts Japan.

Spain, fielding a strong team, came closest to scoring when Dani Ceballos hit the post before the Real Madrid playmaker joined Barcelona full back Oscar Mingueza on the sidelines due to injuries.

"We are going to have to wait to see how both players evolve and how their injuries evolve," Spain coach Luis de la Fuente said. "It doesn't look good, if truth be told."

Elsewhere in Group D, Franck Kessie scored the winner to earn Ivory Coast a 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia in a heated game in Yokohama, the sides committing 27 fouls between them.

The African nation were reduced to 10 men when substitute Aboubacar Doumbia was shown a straight red for his involvement in a scuffle.

In Group B, Burnley striker Chris Wood fired a late goal to help New Zealand beat South Korea 1-0 in Kashima - earning the Kiwis their first win in Olympic men's soccer.

Making their first soccer appearance since the 1964 Tokyo Games, Romania beat Honduras 1-0 thanks to an Elvin Oliva own goal.

Australian Associated Press