Argentina in final but Iraq go out
ATHENS, Greece -- Argentina remain on course to claim their first Olympic gold medal for 52 years after their men's football team thrashed Italy 3-0 in the semifinals on Tuesday.
They will face Paraguay who brought Iraq's fairytale Olympic run to a shuddering halt with a 3-1 win in the later match.
Striker Jose Cardozo fired two first-half goals to stun a raucous section of around 3,000 Iraq fans in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. Fredy Bareiro added a third in the 68th minute.
Substitute Razzaq Farhan pulled a goal back for Iraq in the 83rd minute, but it came too late to make any real difference to the outcome.
Iraq can still win only the second Olympic medal in the war-ravaged country's history if they overcome the Italians in the third-place match on Friday.
Their only previous Olympic medal was a weightlifting bronze at the 1960 Rome Games.
Argentina have not won a gold in any event at the Olympics since the 1952 Helsinki Games - and they again had to thank Carlos Tevez.
Tevez, who scored a hat-trick in the 4-0 quarterfinal win against Costa Rica, was on target in the 16th minute before setting up second-half goals for Luis Gonzalez and substitute Mariano Gonzalez.
Italy coach Claudio Gentile, said the fact that all of the Argentina side except the two goalkeepers represented the country in the Copa America this summer where they reached the final, proved decisive.
"They were definitely superior to us," admitted the former international.
"The Argentine squad has about eight full internationals and most of them were in Peru and that really is quite significant.
"We paid the price for making too many mistakes, but it was an honorable defeat and we can hold our heads high.
"We are still in line for the bronze medal and we will fight hard for that."
Mauro Rosales proved a handful for Italy's defense and it was from his cross that Argentina took the lead.
The Newell Old Boys' delivery was badly misjudged by Italy defender Matteo Ferrari and Tevez pounced on the defender's weak clearance to ram the ball home with his right foot from 12 yards.
Italy, who claimed their only gold medal at the 1936 games in Berlin, fell further behind in the 69th minute.
Tevez fed the overlapping Gonzalez whose righ-footed shot arrowed into the top corner, giving Pelizzoli no chance.
Argentina piled further misery on the Italians six minutes from time when Tevez crossed from the right to give Mariano Gonzalez, who had been on the pitch for less than 60 seconds, an easy tap-in.