Oly Whites Games over after loss to Brazil
Oly-Whites coach Neil Emblen could only watch in admiration as gold medal favourites Brazil sent his charges out of the men's Olympic football tournament.
New Zealand had to beat Brazil at St James' Park and hope Egypt and Belarus drew to progress to the last eight, but the first part of that equation was always going to be a pipe dream and, as it transpired, the second part didn't come through either.
Against a Brazilian under-23 team being groomed for the 2014 World Cup, and stacked with players from clubs such as Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan, the Oly-Whites were predictably outclassed and had real trouble with the speed and silky skills of the South Americans, who eased to a 3-0 victory.
"We've been beaten by a fantastic football team which will probably be gold medallists and I probably shouldn't say this, having been born in Britain, but I hope they do," Emblen said.
"It was very difficult for us going into this game having to beat the best team here. They're just fantastic, we're all on the bench admiring the way they're playing, their passing. One thing you don't talk about with Brazil is the workrate, but they were tremendous with and without the ball.
"It's great for our lads to see and we've just got to learn from this experience. They're the best players in the world technically but they also work the hardest as well. It's a great lesson for us."
Despite being assured of a quarterfinal berth, and resting four frontline players, Brazil produced some of their best football of the tournament.
They dominated possession and although they didn't create a lot of chances, when they did threaten New Zealand's goal, they were clinical, scoring twice in the first half through Danilo and Leandro Damiao, and early in the second through Sandro.
Neymar should have made it 4-0 moments later but he missed an open goal from 5m. It was the miss of the tournament but it didn't matter.
Real Madrid left back Marcelo was in a class of his own and played pivotal roles in two of the goals, Emblen looking on in amazement at the talent his opposite had to work with.
There was a buzz around the city pre-match, even on a weekday.
They love their football in Newcastle - supporting Newcastle United is a religion in these parts - and there were plenty of Brazilians and Kiwis adding to the flavour.
The bumper crowd was probably hoping for more goals in the last 40 minutes, but they got plenty of action and a red card, to Alex Sandro, who was booked for a dive in the penalty box in the 75th minute, five minutes after picking up his first yellow card.
New Zealand had one great chance to score, in the 88th minute, but Michael McGlinchey's goalbound drive was deflected over the bar.
Still, Emblen couldn't fault the second-half effort, which ensured the score didn't blow out.
The Kiwis, who lost 1-0 to Belarus and drew 1-1 with Egypt in their first two matches, were again well led by Ryan Nelsen at the back, while teenager Tim Payne continues to grow as a holding midfielder, a big plus for the All Whites.
"All tournament we've shown good resilience and good Kiwi spirit, and that's obviously led by our captain who leads by example and glues the team together defensively. He's an awesome presence in our group," Emblen said.
Egypt join Brazil in the quarterfinals after beating Belarus 3-1.
Brazil 3 (Danilo, Leandro Damiao, Sandro) New Zealand 0.