The Olympic Games men’s football tournament got under way with World and European champions Spain falling to a shock defeat against Japan at Hampden Park.
Yuki Otsu‘s first-half goal set up the shock result and things got worse for Spain when Inigo Martinez was sent-off five minutes before half-time. Japan could easily have doubled their lead as Keigo Higashi, Kensuke Nagai and Hiroshi Kiyotake all went close after the break. Spain, second favourites for the gold medal, never really threatened to force a draw as Japan swept to the top of Group D following a 2-2 draw between Honduras and Morocco.
Two goals from Jerry Bengtson earned a point for Honduras with Morocco also reduced to ten men. The Africans went ahead seven minutes before half-time after a fine volley from Abdel Barrada but Honduras hit back after the break when Bengston scored from close range. He completed his double from the penalty spot before Zakaria Labyad levelled the match at 2-2. Zakarya Bergdich was then shown a red card for kicking out at Mario Martinez but Morocco held out for the remaining twenty minutes to share the points.
Uruguay, considered by many to be lively outsiders, came from one-nil down to beat United Arab Emirates 2-1 in their Group A opener. UAE skipper Ismaeil Matar put his side ahead midway through the first-half but Uruguay drew level with a free-kick converted by Gaston Ramirez. Substitute Nicolas Lodeiro then combined well with Luis Suarez to force a winner.
In Group B, Mexico and South Korea played out goalless draw at St James’ Park and Switzerland became the third side to finish the match with ten men in a 1-1 draw with Gabon. There was great anticipation ahead of Great Britain’s opening game against Senegal and everything seemed to be going well when Craig Bellamy fired them ahead after twenty minutes. The British team failed to increase their advantage and paid the penalty when Moussa Konate grabbed a point with just eight minutes remaining.
Pre-tournament favourites Brazil looked set to justify their billing when storming to an early three-goal lead against Egypt with goals by Rafael da Silva, Da Silva Leandro Damiao and Junior Neymar. To their credit, the Egyptians stuck to their task and pulled two goals back through Aboutriaka and Salah. Brazil were happy to emerge as 3-2 winners with bookmakers cutting their odds to even money for gold. Great Britain remain at 12-1 as they prepare to meet UAE in their second group game. Japan have been cut to 14-1 after their shock opening victory.
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