Uruguay beat the United Arab Emirates 2-1 in a Group A match yesterday, while Gabon and Switzerland tied 1-1 and Mexico and South Korea drew 0-0 in Group B. In Group C, Brazil beat Egypt 3-2 and Belarus defeated New Zealand 1-0. Honduras and Morocco drew 2-2 in the other Group B game.
Yuki Otsu’s 34th minute goal was enough for Japan, which played more than half the match at Hampden Park in Glasgow with a man advantage after Spain midfielder Inigo Martinez received a red card in the 41st minute.
“We mustn’t get carried away and must continue to work hard,” Otsu told reporters. “We are in a positive position for the other games.”
The top two teams from each of the four groups advance to the quarterfinals.
Spain is the reigning World Cup champion and successfully defended its European title this month, defeating Italy 4-0 in the final. The Olympic team features younger players, as rules only allow three athletes over the age of 23 on each squad.
“We already knew that we would be under additional pressure coming into this tournament as world and European champions,” Spain coach Luis Milla. “But the players are happy to take on board the extra responsibility of this pressure. Now, though, we have to look forward to the match against Honduras.”
Japan, the 1968 bronze medalist, finished 15th in Beijing four years ago and 13th in Athens in 2004. A sixth-place finish in 2000 in Sydney is the team’s best recent Olympic performance.
“I wanted them to mainly focus on gaining three points,” coach Takashi Sekizuka told reporters. “We rarely have the chance to play such a strong team, so I wanted them to take advantage of this and most of all enjoy the match.”
Honduras got two goals from Jerry Bengtson to tie Morocco in Glasgow.
Bengtson scored in the 56th minute to tie the match and then on a penalty kick nine minutes later to put Honduras ahead. Abdelaziz Barrada had given Morocco the lead with a right-foot strike just inside the post in the first half, and Zakaria Labyad tied the match two minutes after Bengtson’s second goal.
“The draw was a fair result, but this will make it difficult against Japan and Spain,” Honduras coach Luis Suarez told reporters. “It will not be easy in this tough group.”
Brazil got three first-half goals and held on to defeat Egypt in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Brazil Holds On
Rafael scored in the 16th minute with Leandro Damiao adding a goal 10 minutes later. Neymar scored in the 30th minute, and the game remained 3-0 at half time. Captain Mohamed Aboutrika scored seven minutes after the restart, and then Mohamed Salah got a goal in the 76th minute to close the gap.
“We had to work really hard near the end,” Brazil midfielder Oscar, who signed for English Premier League club Chelsea this week, told reporters. “The most important thing is that we won.”
In Coventry, Belarus beat New Zealand in the other Group C match on a goal from Dimtry Baga in first-half stoppage time.
Uruguay rallied to defeat the U.A.E. at Old Trafford in Manchester with goals either side of half time.
Ismaeil Matar scored in the 23rd minute by getting past the goalkeeper and two defenders to put the underdog U.A.E. team ahead. Gaston Ramirez made it 1-1 with a curling free kick three minutes before the break, and Nicolas Lodeiro latched on to a loose ball in the U.A.E. penalty area in the 56th minute.
Uruguay was making its return to the Olympic soccer tournament following an 84-year absence. It won the gold medal in Paris in 1924 and Amsterdam in 1928.
Senegal got a second-half goal from Moussa Konate to tie Britain in a Group A game.
The home team had taken the lead on Craig Bellamy’s 20th- minute goal at Old Trafford. The striker went off with a leg injury in the 80th minute and Konate scored two minutes later.
Gabon and Switzerland tied in their Group B match at St. James’ Park in Newcastle, England.
The Swiss took the lead when Mehmedi Admir converted a fifth-minute penalty kick after Innocent Emeghara was brought down in the box. Pierre Aubameyang scored just before half time.
Switzerland had Oliver Buff sent off for a second yellow card for faking a foul in Gabon’s penalty area.
In the other Group B game, Mexico and South Korea played out a scoreless draw in Coventry, England.
Mexico, which was the winner of the North and Central America qualifying region, had a chance to win it in the closing minutes but Giovani dos Santos failed to get a shot on target.
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