Spain suffered a dramatic defeat on the opening day of the men’s Olympic football tournament on Thursday while favourites Brazil narrowly beat Egypt 3-2. Hosts Great Britain had to settle for a 1-1 draw after Senegal scored a late equaliser. The tournament got underway with eight matches the day before the opening ceremony on Friday due to its long match schedule
Undoubtedly the shock result in the opening round came in Glasgow where gold medal contenders Spain were outplayed as they lost 1-0 to Japan after going a man down in the first half. Japan forward, Yuki Otso beat Manchester United’s David De Gea to score the winner in the 34th minute when the ball landed at his feet for a simple tap in after he broke away from his marker during a corner.
Spanish centre back Inigo Martinez was sent off soon after the goal for a foul while trying to stop a Japanese player from scoring.
Japan captain Maya Yoshida said, “It was an important win for us. Spain are a very strong team in the group and we played well against them. We worked really hard and we will enjoy our victory. We can get a lot of confidence from this.”
Chelsea’s Juan Mata said, “Our aim is to win both of them. We have to. We need to improve some things and we have to play better.”
Spain now have two more matches in Group D to turn around their campaign, against Honduras and then Morocco. Their task was made slightly easier as the two sides played out a 2-2 draw in Newcastle.
Brazil continued their fine form scoring three first-half goals, however, the samba squad nearly squandered their lead as Egypt fought back in the second half. It was not to be and Brazil escaped with a narrow victory as they began their quest for a first gold medal in Olympic football.
In Cardiff, Manchester United’s Rafael scored in the 16th minute and was closely followed by Leandro Damiao in the 26th and Neymar in the 30th earning Brazil a comfortable halftime lead. After half time, the game took an interesting turn as captain Mohamed Aboutrika scored in the 52nd and substitute Mohamed Salah following up with a goal of his own in the 76th minute.
Brazil now head Group C alongside Belarus, after they beat New Zealand 1-0 in Coventry through a first-half goal by Dmitry Baga.
Team GB’s debut was spoiled as Senegal scored a late equaliser to draw 1-1 in a near sold out Old Trafford. Welshman, Craig Bellamy pounced on a loose ball after Senegal failed to clear a free kick from Team GB captain Ryan Giggs. He drove a shot into the ground that bounced to the left of Ousmane Mane, the Senegalese keeper.
Senegalese striker Moussa Konate had the final say however, as he ran on to a through ball exposing Britain’s defensive frailty before chipping Butland from close range. Team GB rallied in a frantic few minutes that saw substitute Marvin Sordell hit the bar from close range. Senegal had their own chances and could have scored a very late winner but Konate skewed his shot wide.
“The fact that we got our noses in front and didn’t go on to nail the game was a frustration,” said Team GB manager Stuart Pearce. “We’ve got another tough game Sunday, the group looks like it might be wide open.”
Earlier in Manchester, Uruguay beat the United Arab Emirates thanks to a late goal from substitute midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro in the second half. Uruguay are expected to challenge for a medal with a squad that includes Liverpool star Luis Suarez, who was booed every time he touched the ball by the Mancunian crowd.
Gabon rallied for a 1-1 draw against Switzerland in their Group B clash in Newcastle while Mexico and South Korea also drew 0-0. South Korea, presumably playing with the correct flags alongside their names, played better than Mexico but failed to capitalise on several scoring opportunities.