XXIII Olympic Football Tournament (London 2012)

Game Details

(From 26-07-2012 to 11-08-2012)

 

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: Hampden Park (Glasgow)

DATE: 26-07-2012 (12:00 h)

ATTENDANCE: 23.421

REFEREE: Pavel Královec (CZR)

GOALS: 0-1 (Barrada 39’); 1-1 (Bengtson 56’); 2-1 (Bengtson [p.] 65’); 2-2 (Labyad 67’)

BOOKED: Velásquez (32’), Espinoza (87’), A. Peralta (90+’) / Bidaoui (51’), Kharja (54’), Bergdich (RC 72’)

[Incidents: Bergdich was sent off (min. 72).]

HON

Honduras

Honduras - Morocco

??????

MOR

2-2 (0-1)

HONDURAS

Mendoza

A. Peralta, Leverón (c), Velásquez, Figueroa

Najar, Mejía, Espinoza, Alex López (Hernández 57’)

Bengtson (Lozano 79’), Martínez (O. Peralta 88’)

COACH: Luis Suárez

MOROCCO

Amsif

Jebbour, Abarhoun, El-Kaoutari, Bergdich

Barrada (Najah 89’), Kharja, Fettouhi (c), Labyad

Bidaoui (Noussir 75’), Amrabat (El-Kaddouri 90’)

COACH: Pim Verbeek

GAME SUMMARY

A 10-man Morocco held on for a 2-2 draw against Honduras in the opening match of the Olympic Football Tournament. The game had a relatively cagey opening, with few clear-cut chances. The Africans enjoyed the better of the first half though, and Houssine Kharja had the first serious effort on goal just after the half hour mark, but his powerful header was excellently turned away by José Alberto Mendoza. Six minutes before halftime, Morocco took the lead when Zakaria Labyad’s cushioned header fell perfectly for Abdelaziz Barrada to fire a first-time volley from just outside the area. Honduras should have been level almost immediately as Zakaria Bergdich was robbed in his area, but Andy Najar couldn’t turn Mario Martínez’s cross in from a couple of meters out.

 

The Honduran equalizer did arrive shortly after the break though, when Jerry Bengtson tapped home Maynor Figueroa’s shot from close range. Nine minutes later, Luis Suárez’s team was handed a golden chance when the Czech referee Pavel Královec adjudged that Johnny Leverón had been pulled back by Yassine Jebbour in the Moroccan area in his attempt to meet Arnold Peralta’s teasing cross. Bengtson stepped up to the spot and coolly slotted his shot straight down the middle to make it 2-1 for Honduras. However, the Central American lead only lasted two minutes, as a good interpassing play between Barrada and Labyad allowed the latter to float a lofted effort over the Honduran goalkeeper for the equalizer. Bergdich was then shown a red card for kicking out at Martínez with eighteen minutes remaining, but Honduras couldn’t capitalize on their man advantage and had to settle for a draw. In fact, it was Morocco who had the best chance to win the game as Jebbour fired wastefully into the side-netting when he found himself one-on-one with Mendoza.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: St. James' Park (Newcastle)

DATE: 26-07-2012 (14:30 h)

ATTENDANCE: 15.748

REFEREE: Slim Jedidi (TUN)

GOALS: -

BOOKED: Herrera (59’)

MEX

México

Mexico - South Korea

??

SKR

0-0 (0-0)

MEXICO

Corona (c)

Vidrio, Mier, Reyes, Chávez

Aquino, Salcido, Herrera (Enríquez 71’), Ponce

Fabián (R. Jiménez 85’), Peralta (Giovani 66’)

COACH: Luis Tena

SOUTH KOREA

Jung S.R.

Ki S.Y., Hwang S.H., Kim Y.G., Yoon S.Y.

Kim C.S., Nam T.H. (Ji D.W. 87’), Kim B.K., Park J.W.

Koo J.C. (c), Park J.Y. (Baek S.D. 76’)

COACH: Hong Myung-bo

GAME SUMMARY

Mexico and South Korea played out a 0-0 draw in their opening olympic game. However, the Central Americans could have snatched a dramatic win in injury-time, when substitute Raúl Jiménez was denied by the woodwork. The Koreans enjoyed the better of the first half, Nam Tae-hee firing high and wide after 19 minutes and Park Jong-woo crashing a long-distance half-volley over seven minutes before the break. Mexico responded in minute 42, when Héctor Herrera forced a remarkable save from keeper Jung Sung-ryong.

 

The Koreans returned in determined mood after halftime and went close twice within the opening ten minutes of the second half, captain Koo Ja-chul clipping the bar with an angled shot before laying the ball off to Ki Sung-yong to force a fine save from José de Jesús Corona. At the other end, Jung Sung-ryong had to react smartly to keep out Javier Aquino’s well-struck effort, and Marco Fabián passed up a glorious opportunity to put Mexico ahead in minute 69 when he ballooned his effort over. With neither team being able to break the deadlock, ten minutes from time Koo Ja-chul headed Kim Chang-soo’s cross past the post when he might have done better, then substitute Giovani dos Santos only just missed the target. In injury-time, Mexico had a glorious chance to claim all three points when the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder set up Raúl Jiménez and the striker clipped the outside of the post.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: Hampden Park (Glasgow)

DATE: 26-07-2012 (14:45 h)

ATTENDANCE: 37.726

REFEREE: Mark Geiger (USA)

GOALS: 0-1 (Otsu 34’)

BOOKED: Jordi Alba (40’), Íñigo Martínez (RC 41’), Domínguez (89’) / Saito (61’)

[Incidents: Íñigo Martínez was sent off (min. 41).]

SPA

Espa?a

Spain - Japan

日本

JAP

0-1 (0-1)

SPAIN

De Gea

Montoya, Domínguez, Íñigo Martínez, Jordi Alba

Mata, Javi Martínez (c), Isco (Oriol R. 63’), Koke (Tello 81’), Rodrigo

Adrián (Ander Herrera 56’)

COACH: Luis Milla

JAPAN

Gonda

H. Sakai (G. Sakai 74’), Suzuki, Yoshida (c), Tokunaga

Kiyotake, Ohgihara (Yamamura 86’), Higashi, Yamaguchi, Nagai

Otsu (Saito 46’)

COACH: Takashi Sekizuka

GAME SUMMARY

Japan shocked World and European champions Spain in their opening match of the Olympic Games after an impressive performance by the Asian team. The Japanese victory was thoroughly deserved, and should have been by a greater margin had the Asian players not wasted a host of golden chances in the second half, when their lively pace and constant pressure was too much for a 10-man Spain.

 

The U-21 European champions started the game by trying to impose their usual possession-based dominance on the game, but they were hustled from the very first whistle by an energetic Japanese outfit. Juan Manuel Mata —one of the three over-age Spanish players allowed in the Olympic Tournament, who had just won the European Championship with La Roja in Ukraine— forced Shuichi Gonda into a fine save with Spain’s only serious effort of the first half. An incredibly fit Japanese team constantly pressed the Spanish midfield and threatened with dangerous counterattacks, and they were rewarded after 34 minutes when Yuki Otsu outmuscled Martín Montoya to prod home Takahiro Ohgihara’s corner. With the Spanish team in a state of shock and an increasingly nervous backline, Hiroshi Kiyotake should have doubled the Japanese lead as he pounced on a wayward backpass from Álvaro Domínguez, but after rounding David de Gea he just could not turn his shot on target from a narrow angle. The Spanish troubles increased four minutes from halftime when central defender Íñigo Martínez was sent-off with a straight red card for bringing down Kensuke Nagai just outside the area. Although the expelling might seem a little harsh for a simple shirt-pullling, the Real Sociedad player was rightly given his marching orders as he was the last Spanish defender.

 

In spite of their numerical disadvantage, Spain tried to react in the second half and took control of the ball. However, although they enjoyed a greater possession, Luis Milla’s side were unable to carve out clear chances against a very disciplined Japanese defensive line. In fact, it was the Asian team who should have put the game beyond contest when their quick counterattack found the Spanish defense in disarray on many occasions. De Gea was called into action to make a fine save from Keigo Higashi in the 49th minute, but the Manchester United goalkeeper should have been left helpless when Nagai broke through on goal moments later, only for the Japanese striker to pull his shot just wide of the target. Kiyotake had an almost identical opportunity two minutes later at the end of an amazing solo run through the Spanish defense, but again his shot slipped just wide. Luis Milla then introduced midfielders Ander Herrera and Oriol Romeu to try and stem the offensive tide in his team. While the tactic worked in preventing the Japanese counterattacking with ease, Spain still struggled to create their own clear-cut openings. Jordi Alba’s effort was easily smothered by Gonda with twelve minutes remaining, but Spain were again thankful to De Gea as he made a stunning save to once again deny Nagai before Hotaru Yamaguchi sliced wide in front of a gaping goal in stoppage-time.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: Old Trafford (Manchester)

DATE: 26-07-2012 (17:00 h)

ATTENDANCE: 51.745

REFEREE: Peter O’Leary (NZL)

GOALS: 1-0 (Matar 23’); 1-1 (Ramírez 42’); 1-2 (Lodeiro 56’)

BOOKED: Ahmed (37’) / Rolín (9’)

UAE

???????? ??????? ???????

United Arab Emirates - Uruguay

Uruguay

URU

1-2 (1-1)

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Khasif

Hussain, Al-Kamali, Ahmed, Sanqour

A. Abdulrahman, Ismail, O. Abdulrahman, R. Eisa (Ali 73’)

Khalil, Matar (c) (Al-Hammadi 60’)

COACH: Mahdi Redha

URUGUAY

Campaña

Aguirregaray (Lodeiro 46’), Arias, Coates, Albín

Calzada(Rodríguez 70’), Rolín, Ramírez(Urretaviscaya 81’), Arévalo R.

Suárez (c), Cavani

COACH: Óscar Tabárez

GAME SUMMARY

Uruguay came from behind to beat United Arab Emirates 2-1 in their olympic opener. Midway the first half, the UAE captain Ismail Matar gave his side a shocking lead after collecting a through-ball and eluding the keeper Martín Campaña. However, the South Americans kept their nerve and equalized before the break thanks to magnificent curling free kick by Gastón Ramírez. In the second half, a very active Luis Suárez —who whas booed throughout the game for his alleged racial abuse on Manchester United player Patrice Evra— was also involved in the second Uruguayan goal, when he cut inside after collecting a pass from substitute Nicolás Lodeiro, who kept going and buried a clinical shot into the far corner. Although the UAE tried to react, they showed lack of competitive experience in international tournaments and the South Americans had no trouble to keep their advantage unitl the final whistle.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: St. James' Park (Newcastle)

DATE: 26-07-2012 (17:15 h)

ATTENDANCE: 15.748

REFEREE: Wilmar Roldán (COL)

GOALS: 0-1 (Mehmedi [p.] 5’); 1-1 (Aubameyang 45’)

BOOKED: Nono (18’), Tandjigora (49’) / Klose (14’), Buff (32’), Buff (78’ > RC)

[Incidents: Buff was sent off (min. 78).]

GAB

Gabon

Gabon - Switzerland

Schweiz / Suisse

SWI

1-1 (1-1)

GABON

Ovono (c)

Engonga, Boussougou, H. N’Dong, Dinda

N’Doumbou, Tandjigora, Madinda, Obiang

Nono (Méyé 74’), Aubameyang

COACH: Claude Mbourounot

SWITZERLAND

Benaglio (c)

Morganella, Schär, Klose, Rodríguez

Zuber (Kasami 68’), Hochstrasser, Buff, Frei

Mehmedi, Emeghara (Abrashi 84’)

COACH: Pierluigi Tami

GAME SUMMARY

Pierre Aubameyang denied 10-man Switzerland an opening victory as Gabon claimed a hard-fought 1-1 draw. The Saint-Étienne striker cancelled out Admir Mehmedi’s twice-taken penalty with a neat finish as the halftime whistle approached.

 

Switzerland could hardly have got off to a better start after the lively Innocent Emeghara was felled by defender Henri N’Dong inside the box and Colombian Wilmar Roldán pointed to the spot. Mehmedi sent keeper Didier Ovono the wrong way, only to see the referee order the kick to be re-taken because of encroachment. On second attempt, the Dynamo Kiev attacker made no mistake again and gave Switzerland an early lead. After the Swiss goal, Gabon endured a torrid first half as their defense was repeatedly breached but, having hit the bar through Jerry Obiang, got themselves back into the game on the stroke of halftime when Aubameyang converted Alexander N’Doumbou’s cross from close range.

 

The African team was more adventurous in the second half, and Aubameyang should have made it 2-1 for Gabon in minute 63, but he headed Lévy Madinda’s corner straight at keeper Diego Benaglio. At the other end, Ovono did well to keep out substitute Pajtim Kasami’s drive six minutes later. Fabian Frei and N’Doumbou might have snatched victory for their respective sides as time ran down. In the closing stages of the game, the Swiss midfielder Oliver Buff was dismissed for a second bookable offense, but Gabon failed to capitalize on their numerical advantage.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: City of Coventry Stadium (Coventry)

DATE: 26-07-2012 (19:45 h)

ATTENDANCE: 14.457

REFEREE: Bakary Gassama (GAM)

GOALS: 1-0 (Baga 45+’)

BOOKED: Politevich (56’) / Smith (1’), Barbarouses (60’)

BLR

Беларусь

Belarus - New Zealand

Aotearoa

NZL

1-0 (1-0)

BELARUS

Gutor

Kozlov, Kuz’menok, Politevich, Poljakov

Dragun (c), Baga, Bressan (Voronkov 81’), Solovej (Aleksievich 54’)

Kornilenko (Zubovich 90+’), Gordejchuk

COACH: Georgij Kondrat’ev

NEW ZEALAND

O’Keeffe

Hogg, Smith, Nelsen (c), Thomas (McGeorge 77’)

Payne, Barbarouses, McGlinchey, Rojas (Howieson 73’)

Smeltz, Wood

COACH: Neil Emblen

GAME SUMMARY

Belarus celebrated their first appearance at a major tournament with a 1-0 victory over New Zealand in their opening olympic game. A miscalculation by the Kiwi stand-in keeper Michael O’Keeffe gifted Dmitrij Baga the only goal on the stroke of halftime.

 

New Zealand were the first to threaten when Chris Wood’s downward header was saved by Aleksandr Gutor. The Belarusian goalkeeper also tipped over Marco Rojas’ long-range drive, but the European side looked increasingly dangerous as the half progressed, and Sergej Kornilenko was denied by Michael McGlinchey’s close-range block before O’Keeffe turned aside Baga’s dipping effort. Then, just before halftime, O’Keeffe failed to punch clear a Renan Bressan corner and Baga headed home at the far post.

 

Wood should have equalized for New Zealand after 67 minutes, but he fired wastefully over with only Gutor to beat. However, O’Keeffe was still the busier of the two goalkeepers in this game, and he partially atoned for his error by parrying Kornilenko’s shot on the turn and producing reflex saves to keep out two attempts from substitute Andrej Voronkov. The New Zealand guardian was relieved in the final stages of the game when Kornilenko’s drive struck the bar.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: Millennium Stadium (Cardiff)

DATE: 26-07-2012 (19:45 h)

ATTENDANCE: 26.812

REFEREE: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA)

GOALS: 1-0 (Rafael 16’); 2-0 (Leandro Damião 26’); 3-0 (Neymar 30’); 3-1 (Aboutrika 52’); 3-2 (Salah 76’)

BOOKED: Hulk (60’) / Gomaa (33’), Alaa el-Din (71’), Ramadan (87’)

BRA

Brasil

Brazil - Egypt

???

EGY

3-2 (3-0)

BRAZIL

Neto

Rafael, Thiago Silva (c), Juan, Marcelo

Sandro (Danilo 78’), Rômulo, Oscar

Leandro Damião (Alexandre Pato 77’), Hulk (Ganso 72’), Neymar

COACH: Mano Menezes

EGYPT

El-Shenawi

Alaa el-Din, Hegazi, Ahmed Fathi, Ramadan

Gomaa (Ahmed 74’), Hassan, El-Neni (Magdi 89’), Aboutrika (c)

Mohsen (Salah 46’), Moteab

COACH: Hany Ramzy

GAME SUMMARY

After a dominant first half, Brazil were forced to fend off a brave fightback from Egypt to earn a hard-fought 3-2 victory in their olympic opener. The new Chelsea signing Oscar dos Santos set up Rafael da Silva and Leandro Damião da Silva for the first two Brazilian goals, then Neymar da Silva made it 3-0 on the half hour mark to give the U-23 Canarinha a comfortable 3-0 lead at halftime. However, the South Americans took their foot off the gas after the break and were punished as Mohammed Aboutrika and Mohammed Salah pulled two goals back for Egypt, but the African team could not complete their brave comeback.

 

Brazil took the lead after sixteen minutes when Oscar gave a glimpse of his talents with a lovely reverse pass that allowed Rafael to drill home a left-footed shot. The former Internacional of Porto Alegre midfielder was again heavily involved when the Seleção doubled their advantage ten minutes later, as Oscar rounded the advancing Egyptian goalkeeper Ahmed el-Shenawi before squaring for Leandro Damião to fire home from close range. Almost immediately, Neymar made it 3-0 for Brazil as he headed home after combining brilliantly with Hulk.

 

Egypt didn’t give up after the break and bravely battled their way back into the game. Seven minutes after the restart, Emad Moteab struck the post and captain Aboutrika latched onto the loose ball to pull one goal back for the African side. Substitute Salah should have narrowed the deficit further just a few minutes later after seizing on Marcelo’s woeful header, but the Egyptian striker dallied and his shot was blocked. Salah made amends for this miss in minute 76 though, as he calmly picked his spot to beat Neto. However, Brazil kept possession of the ball until the final whistle to avoid an unpredicted Egyptian comeback.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: Old Trafford (Manchester)

DATE: 26-07-2012 (20:00 h)

ATTENDANCE: 72.176

REFEREE: Ravshan Irmatov (UZB)

GOALS: 1-0 (Bellamy 20’); 1-1 (Konaté 82’)

BOOKED: Bellamy (47’) / Souaré (36’), S. Mané (45’), P. Guèye (86’)

GBR

Great Britain

Great Britain - Senegal

Sénégal

SEN

1-1 (1-0)

GREAT BRITAIN

Butland

Richards, Caulker, Taylor, Bertrand

Giggs (c), Cleverley, Allen (Ramsey 63’), Rose

Bellamy (Cork 80’), Sturridge (Sordell 46’)

COACH: Stuart Pearce

SENEGAL

O. Mané

Ciss, , P. Guèye, Souaré (Yero 88’)

Touré, I. Guèye (Kouyaté 42’), Diamé (c), S. Mané

Konaté, Baldé (M. Guèye 65’)

COACHES: Karim Séga Diouf / Aliou Cissé

GAME SUMMARY

A late Moussa Konaté’s equalizer denied Great Britain a victory in their opening olympic game. Craig Bellamy had put the hosts in front with a clinical volley midway the first half, but Stuart Pearce’s side were then pushed onto the back foot by the Africans’ physical approach, with some harsh tackles that went largely unpunished by Uzbek referee Ravshan Irmatov. Just when Team GB thought they had weathered the worst and secured an important victory, Konaté struck eight minutes from time to bring disappointment to the local crowd.

 

Great Britain and Senegal engaged in an entertaining opening before the hosts took the lead on 20 minutes. The three over-age British players were involved in the build-up, as Ryan Giggs sent over a cross from the right and Micah Richards challenged the ball before it was headed down by Steven Caulker into the path of Bellamy, whose first-time finish flashed past Ousmane Mané into the far corner. Senegal should have equalized later on when the young British goalkeeper Jack Butland directed a routine clearance straight to Sadio Mané, who chipped disappointingly wide with only the English guardian barring the way.

 

After the restart, Ibrahima Baldé’s shot drew a smart low save from Butland, as a very physical Senegal was trying to muscle their way back into the game, even resorting to a series of dangerous tackles unbecoming their age. Zargo Touré thundered a shot over and Saliou Ciss brought another decent save out of Butland before Danny Rose cleared a powerful Abdoulaye Bâ header off the line. With ten minutes left, goalscorer Bellamy was forced off the field after another harsh Senegalese tackle had damaged his knee, but by then the British players thought they had secured the three points. In minute 82, however, Konaté delicately lifted the ball over an advancing Butland to deny Team GB their win. Although the hosts pushed forward frantically in search of a late winner, they came no nearer than a Marvin Sordell’s effort that crashed against the bar.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: Old Trafford (Manchester)

DATE: 29-07-2012 (12:00 h)

ATTENDANCE: 50.050

REFEREE: Mark Clattenburg (GBR)

GOALS: 0-1 (Wood 17’); 1-1 (Salah 40’)

BOOKED: Alaa el-Din (60’) / Smeltz (81’)

EGY

???

Egypt - New Zealand

Aotearoa

NZL

1-1 (1-1)

EGYPT

El-Shenawi

Alaa el-Din, Hegazi, Ahmed Fathi, Ramadan

Gomaa (Ahmed 88’), Hassan, El-Neni (Magdi 68’)

Aboutrika (c) (Mohsen 88’), Salah, Moteab

COACH: Hany Ramzy

NEW ZEALAND

O’Keeffe

Hogg (Musa 63’), Smith, Nelsen (c), Thomas (Feneridis 89’)

Payne, Barbarouses, McGlinchey, Rojas (Howieson 84’)

Smeltz, Wood

COACH: Neil Emblen

GAME SUMMARY

Egypt and New Zealand, two teams in need of a win after their opening defeats, shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw which left no one happy. With the African side dominating for long periods and the Kiwis playing on the break, the game was an entertaining encounter with a fair result.

 

During the opening 45 minutes, the Egyptians showed the same form as in their (ultimately fruitless) fightback against Brazil, and forced New Zealand onto the defensive for long periods. Ahmed Fathi and Mohammed Salah combined to create a couple of openings within the first fifteen minutes, but New Zealand goalkeeper Michael O’Keeffe kept the pair out. Mohammed Aboutrika found space on the edge of the box after thirteen minutes, but he shot woefully wide. At this juncture, it was much against the run of play that the Kiwis took the lead on 17 minutes, when a Michael McGlinchey corner was flicked on by Tommy Smith into the path of Chris Wood, who was left unmarked to prod the ball home from close range. Egypt hit back immediately and Saleh Gomaa brought a fine save from O’Keeffe, then Salah shot wide. The African pressure finally brought them a leveller five minutes from the break, when Aboutrika sent a cross from the right and Salah side-footed the ball into goal, despite O’Keeffe getting a hand to it. Egypt almost scored again moments later, when Emad Moteab flashed a header wide.

 

The second period followed a similar pattern, with woeful finishing from Egypt proving a problem for the African team. As the half progressed, the All Whites started to attack themselves, but left more spaces for the quick Egyptian breakaway. Ahmed Fathi powered a fierce drive just over the bar before O’Keeffe pulled off a stunning save to tip over Moteab’s header. The best chance of the period fell to New Zealand in minute 78, when the unmarked McGlinchey sent a diving header straight at keeper Ahmed el-Shenawi. The game was becoming stretched with chances created at both ends, but the Kiwi keeper was the busier of the two custodians. As the Egyptian pressure increased, substitute Shehab Ahmed dragged an effort wide when well placed. In a frantic finale, either team could have clinched the win, with Egypt the main culprit as, deep into injury-time, with the Kiwi defense in disarray and O’Keeffe on the floor, Moteab blazed over with the goal gaping. The miss was so bad that five of his teammates fell to their knees in disbelief.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: City of Coventry Stadium (Coventry)

DATE: 29-07-2012 (14:30 h)

ATTENDANCE: 28.171

REFEREE: Ben Williams (AUS)

GOALS: 1-0 (Giovani 63’); 2-0 (Giovani [p.] 90+’)

BOOKED: Reyes (41’) / Dinda (43’), H. N’Dong (50’), H. N’Dong (90+’ > RC)

[Incidents: Henri N’Dong was sent off (min. 90+).]

MEX

México

Mexico - Gabon

Gabon

GAB

2-0 (0-0)

MEXICO

Corona (c)

Vidrio, Mier, Reyes, Chávez

Aquino, Salcido, Herrera (Enríquez 48’), Ponce (Giovani 46’)

Fabián (Cortés 76’), Peralta

COACH: Luis Tena

GABON

Ovono (c)

Engonga, Boussougou, H. N’Dong, Dinda (Nzambé 85’)

N’Doumbou (Nono 70’), Tandjigora, Madinda, Obiang (Mbingui 83’)

Méyé, Aubameyang

COACH: Claude Mbourounot

GAME SUMMARY

A second half brace by substitute Giovani dos Santos earned Mexico their first victory in the Olympic Tournament at the expense of Gabon, and put Luis Tena’s team on course for the quarterfinals. The former FC Barcelona player broke the deadlock after 63 minutes, then scored from the penalty spot in injury-time after the Gabonese defender Henri N’Dong was sent off.

 

Mexico had the best of the first half and created several chances to open the score. A fierce drive by Marco Fabián from the edge of the area was beaten away by the legs of Didier Ovono, and moments later Miguel Ángel Ponce headed wide from close range. The Gabonese goalkeeper was called into action again to deny a long-range effort from Héctor Herrera. Oribe Peralta’s first-time shot flew just wide after he had taken a pass from Dárvin Chávez in his stride. Midway the half, underdogs Gabon came more into the game and a low shot from Jerry Obiang stung the palms of Mexico goalkeeper José de Jesús Corona.

 

El Tri continued their domination in the second half, and seven minutes into the period Ovono had to be at his best to parry Peralta’s rising shot past the post. Mexico eventually broke the deadlock in minute 63 when, following some fine hold-up play from Peralta, Giovani slotted a side-footed finish past Ovono. The Mexican goal sparked some life into Gabon, who surged forward looking for an instant reply, only to leave themselves vulnerable at the back with Peralta and Giovani a constant threat on the break. Pierre Aubameyang squandered two fine opportunities for the African team, first opting to cross when he had a chance to shoot and then failing to beat Corona at his near post when he found himself clear through on goal. Late substitute Samson Mbingui almost nodded in the equalizer with his first touch, but the Mexican defense managed to block his effort and scramble the ball away to safety. The Gabonese fate was sealed in injury-time when Henri N’Dong hauled down Peralta to award Mexico a penalty and earn himself a second yellow card in the process. Giovani stepped up and dispatched the spot-kick with ease to claim three vital points for the American team and leave Gabon on the brink of elimination.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: Old Trafford (Manchester)

DATE: 29-07-2012 (15:00 h)

ATTENDANCE: 66.212

REFEREE: Yuichi Nishimura (JAP)

GOALS: 0-1 (Bressan 8’); 1-1 (Alexandre Pato 15’); 2-1 (Neymar 65’); 3-1 (Oscar 90+’)

BOOKED: Kozlov (14’), Dragun (80’)

BRA

Brasil

Brazil - Belarus

Беларусь

BLR

3-1 (1-1)

BRAZIL

Neto

Rafael, Thiago Silva (c), Juan, Marcelo

Sandro (Ganso 64’), Rômulo, Oscar

Alexandre Pato (Lucas 85’), Hulk (Danilo 86’), Neymar

COACH: Mano Menezes

BELARUS

Gutor

Kozlov (Gavrilovich 80’), Kuz’menok, Politevich, Poljakov

Dragun (c), Baga, Bressan, Aleksievich (Voronkov 70’)

Kornilenko (Zubovich 78’), Gordejchuk

COACH: Georgij Kondrat’ev

GAME SUMMARY

Neymar da Silva showed why he’s one of the hottest prospects in the summer (claimed by Spanish giant FC Barcelona) with a very complete display, creating two goals for teammates Alexandre Pato and Oscar dos Santos and scoring one more himself. A spirited Belarus team had taken an early lead through Brazilian-born midfielder Renan Bressan, but soon after Neymar crossed for Alexandre Pato to equalize. In the second half, the Santos attacker gave Brazil the lead with a superb free kick, then set up Oscar for the third Brazilian goal in injury-time. After their second victory in the tournament, Brazil have already secured a place in the quarterfinals.

 

The Seleção started confidently, with Rafael da Silva, Hulk and Alexandre Pato sending over teasing crosses. However, it was Belarus who took a shocking lead after eight minutes: Aleksej Kozlov raced down the right flank and found Bressan at the back post, where the midfielder directed a downward header past Norberto Neto. Brazil didn’t have to wait long for the equalizer, and on the quarter hour mark Neymar came in from the left flank and curled a wonderful cross to the back post, where Alexandre Pato outjumped his marker to head past Aleksandr Gutor. Although Brazil dominated possession for most of the first half, Belarus still looked dangerous. Bressan again went close with a fierce drive, and shortly afterwards Neto had to back-pedal frantically to tip over the midfielder’s free kick.

 

After the break, Gutor pulled off an athletic save to palm away a drive from Marcelo Vieira, and Sergej Politevich threw himself in front of Oscar just before the new Chelsea midfielder could pull the trigger. Bressan’s cross-shot almost slipped past Neto at the back post during a rare Belarus attack, as the Europeans started to settle for a valuable draw. However, on 65 minutes Neymar was tripped by Stanislav Dragun and the Santos ace took the free kick himself, curling his shot over the wall and into the far corner to give Brazil the lead. Neymar was later denied a second goal by a forceful challenge after beating three Belarus defenders to break into the box. Another moment of brilliance by the attacker sealed Brazil’s win in injury-time, when he drifted in from the left flank and skipped past two defenders before backheeling the ball to Oscar, who made no mistake from close range.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: Wembley (London)

DATE: 29-07-2012 (17:00 h)

ATTENDANCE: 75.093

REFEREE: Felix Brych (GER)

GOALS: 1-0 (Konaté 10’); 2-0 (Konaté 37’)

BOOKED: Bâ (27’), Bâ (RC 30’), Kouyaté (44’), Diamé (46’), Badji (61’) / Ramírez (64’), Albín (68’)

[Incidents: Bâ was sent off (min. 30).]

SEN

Sénégal

Senegal - Uruguay

Uruguay

URU

2-0 (2-0)

SENEGAL

O. Mané

Ciss, , P. Guèye, Souaré

Touré, Kouyaté, Diamé (c), S. Mané

Konaté (Yero 83’), Badji (Kara 66’)

COACHES: Karim Séga Diouf / Aliou Cissé

URUGUAY

Campaña

Lodeiro (Viúdez 75’), Arias, Coates, Albín (Urretaviscaya 72’)

Calzada (Hernández 46’), Rolín, Ramírez, Arévalo Ríos

Suárez (c), Cavani

COACH: Óscar Tabárez

GAME SUMMARY

Ten-man Senegal earned a shock win over highly-fancied Uruguay and took a giant step to quarterfinals, as a tie in their last group game against the UAE will be enough to qualify. The South Americans, on the contrary, will face a final showdown with hosts Great Britain, knowing that only a win will send them through. Two first half goals from the impressive teen attacker Moussa Konaté, either side of Abdoulaye Bâ’s dismissal, were enough to give the African Lions their first win in the tournament.

 

As in the previous Uruguay match, Luis Suárez was again public enemy number one, and the sizeable crowd at Wembley booed him every time he came in contact with the ball. In a brilliant opening period which ended with two goals, one red card and countless chances, the Uruguayan captain had the first sight of goal when he headed into the side-netting. However, it was Senegal who took the lead in minute 10 when Konaté showed a lightning reaction to prod home after Martín Campaña had parried Cheikhou Kouyaté’s header into his path. On the half hour mark, Bâ (who had just been booked) chopped Suárez down and was shown a straight red card. With a man advantage, Uruguay should have had enough class to force their way back into the contest. Instead, thanks to a couple of excellent saves from Ousmane Mané and a goal-line clearance from Kouyaté, Senegal were able to double their advantage before halftime when Konaté again steered home Sadio Mané’s corner with a deft header.

 

In the second half, despite plenty of possession, Uruguay never really looked like mounting an effective comeback. The Africans defended orderly and threatened on the counterattack. A rare Uruguayan chance in minute 62 was wasted by Suárez when the Liverpool forward somehow headed wide under no pressure from a Nicolás Lodeiro free kick. With time ticking away for the South Americans, it was Senegal who had a great chance to go 3-0 up four minutes from time when Serigne Kara's free kick from distance was saved by Campaña. In injury-time, Suárez could have scored a consolation goal for Uruguay, but Ousmane Mané went down well to save his shot.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: St. James' Park (Newcastle)

DATE: 29-07-2012 (17:00 h)

ATTENDANCE: 24.936

REFEREE: Svein Oddvar Moen (NOR)

GOALS: 1-0 (Nagai 84’)

BOOKED: Fettouhi (29’), Noussir (90+’)

JAP

日本

Japan - Morocco

??????

MOR

1-0 (0-0)

JAPAN

Gonda

G. Sakai, Suzuki, Yoshida (c), Tokunaga

Kiyotake (Sugimoto 90’), Ohgihara, Higashi, Yamaguchi, Nagai

Otsu (Saito 78’)

COACH: Takashi Sekizuka

MOROCCO

Amsif

Jebbour, Abarhoun, El-Kaoutari, Noussir

Barrada, Kharja, Fettouhi (c) (El-Hassnaoui 88’), Labyad

Bidaoui (El-Kaddouri 74’), Amrabat (Najah 72’)

COACH: Pim Verbeek

GAME SUMMARY

A late goal by Nagoya Grampus striker Kensuke Nagai, after racing onto a clever flicked pass from Hiroshi Kiyotake, gave Japan a deserved win against a Moroccan side lacking any punch or penetration, and ensured a place in the last-eight round for the Blue Samurais.

 

Morocco had a bright start and created the first scoring chance in minute 4, when Nordin Amrabat perfectly timed his run into the box but Japan skipper Maya Yoshida cleared well. The African danger came mostly from the flanks, with the talented wingers Zakaria Labyad and Soufiane Bidaoui creating openings on either side. One such move saw Morocco force an 18th minute corner, from which Amrabat had a chance following a knockdown, but his shot was well blocked by a combination of keeper Shuichi Gonda and right-back Gotoku Sakai. Three minutes later, another good play on the right flank from Bidaoui saw him bamboozle the Japanese central defender Daisuke Suzuki, but his cross eluded the onrushing Labyad. In minute 34, Gonda had to pull off a good save to keep out Labyad’s swerving drive, but the Japanese belatedly responded when Yuki Otsu—the hero in the 1-0 victory over Spain—sent a deflected attempt just wide.

 

With the tempo noticeably quicker in the second half, Morocco set about taking control of the match, aware that a point would be a better result for its opponent than for themselves, and forced a succession of early corners, but struggled to threaten the Japanese goal, Amrabat coming closest in the 58th minute with a curling effort which went just wide. The woodwork denied Kiyotake four minutes later when his terrific left-footed drive came back off the bar and hit Mohamed Amsif before the Moroccan keeper managed to cling on to the loose ball. Bursting through midfield, Hotaru Yamaguchi played a clever one-two with the previously anonymous Nagai, but the Cerezo Osaka midfielder fired over the crossbar when presented with a golden opportunity. Now firmly in the ascendency, Japan continued to attack, and their bold approach was rewarded six minutes from time when Kiyotake clipped the ball over the Moroccan defense for Nagai to chase, and the Japanese striker calmly lifted it over the advancing goalkeeper into the unguarded net. However, it took a fine double save by Gonda to ensure the Japanese victory as Labyad and then substitute Omar el-Kaddouri went agonizingly close at the death.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: City of Coventry Stadium (Coventry)

DATE: 29-07-2012 (17:15 h)

ATTENDANCE: 30.114

REFEREE: Raúl Orosco (BOL)

GOALS: 1-0 (Park Joo-young 57’); 1-1 (Emeghara 60’); 2-1 (Kim Bo-kyung 64’)

BOOKED: Park Jong-woo (68’), Park Joo-young (71’) / Kasami (1’), Morganella (66’), Drmić (71’), Emeghara (88’)

SKR

??

South Korea - Switzerland

Schweiz / Suisse

SWI

2-1 (0-0)

SOUTH KOREA

Jung S.R.

Ki S.Y., Hwang S.H., Kim Y.G., Yoon S.Y.

Kim C.S., Nam T.H. (Baek S.D. 61’), Kim B.K., Park J.W.

Koo J.C. (c), Park J.Y. (Ji D.W. 73’)

COACH: Hong Myung-bo

SWITZERLAND

Benaglio (c)

Morganella, Schär, Klose, Rodríguez

Zuber (Drmić 71’), Abrashi, Kasami (Wiss 85’), Frei

Mehmedi, Emeghara

COACH: Pierluigi Tami

GAME SUMMARY

South Korea earned a vital win against Switzerland after a thrilling game which could have gone either way, and the Asian side put themselves in a commanding position to qualify for the quarterfinals. After a goalless first half, Arsenal striker Park Joo-young put the Koreans in front soon after the restart, only to see Innocent Emeghara level three minutes later. However, the Asian Tigers took the lead again thanks to a magnificent volley from Kim Bo-kyung, and held on to their advantage until the end to claim an important victory.

 

Both sides went into the contest looking for their first win of the tournament after their opening draws. South Korea made no changes to their starting eleven, whereas Pajtim Kasami and Amir Abrashi replaced Xavier Hochstrasser and the suspended Oliver Buff in the Swiss team. The Asians looked the more threatening side in a first half with few openings. Park Joo-young had the first real chance of the match, but his header from a far post corner was brilliantly turned away by Diego Benaglio. The Arsenal striker almost benefited from a defensive lapse as a through-ball deflected into his path off the legs of Fabian Schär, but the Swiss keeper denied him with an instinctive save from close range. In spite of some attractive and well constructed play, the Koreans were unable to break the stalemate after a rather one-sided first half.

 

South Korea continued pressing for the opener after the interval, and twelve minutes into the second half they were rewarded for their enterprising approach when Nam Tae-hee sent a pinpoint cross from the right flank and Park Joo-young flung himself full length to head home. However, the Swiss responded magnificently and, after Kasami forced Jung Sung-ryong into a near post save, Emeghara headed a Ricardo Rodríguez cross from the left wing to level the scores. Four minutes later, the Koreans were in front once more as Kim Bo-kyung latched onto a deflected cross from captain Koo Ja-chul to power a superb left-footed volley into the top corner. Although Switzerland tried to respond again, it was the Koreans who came closest to seal their victory on the counterattack. First it was substitute striker Ji Dong-won who had an effort cleared off the line, then Kim Bo-kyung again smashed a left-footed effort against the crossbar, and finally Koo Ja-chul also rattled the woodwork with an effort from the edge of the area. Wasted opportunities from Emeghara and Admir Mehmedi added to the Swiss frustration in this game, as South Korea held out to seal a win that leaves them on top of Group B, while the Swiss need to beat Mexico in order to stand any chance of qualification.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: Wembley (London)

DATE: 29-07-2012 (19:45 h)

ATTENDANCE: 85.137

REFEREE: Roberto García Orozco (MEX)

GOALS: 1-0 (Giggs 16’); 1-1 (R. Eisa 60’); 2-1 (Sinclair 73’); 3-1 (Sturridge 76’)

BOOKED: Ismail (63’), O. Abdulrahman (83’)

[Incidents: At 38, Ryan Giggs became the oldest goalscorer in the history of the Olympic Tournament.]

GBR

Great Britain

Great Britain - United Arab Emirates

???????? ??????? ???????

UAE

3-1 (1-0)

GREAT BRITAIN

Butland

Richards, Caulker, Tomkins, Taylor

Giggs (c) (Sinclair 72’), Cleverley, Ramsey, Allen, Bellamy (Cork 83’)

Sordell (Sturridge 46’)

COACH: Stuart Pearce

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Khasif

Hussain (Surour 51’), Al-Kamali, Ahmed, Sanqour

A. Abdulrahman, Ismail (Fardan 79’), O. Abdulrahman, R. Eisa

Matar (c) (Ali 72’), Khalil

COACH: Mahdi Redha

GAME SUMMARY

Great Britain survived a second half scare and earned their first olympic victory since 1960 to claim top position in Group A, tied with Senegal. After Ryan Giggs had become the oldest goalscorer in the history of the competition, Rashed Eisa pulled a surprise equalizer for the UAE. With England manager Roy Hodgson watching the game from the stands, young guns Scott Sinclair and Daniel Sturridge saved the hosts some blushes with two more goals near the end.

 

Stuart Pearce made three changes in the team that featured against Senegal, introducing an extra man in midfield which allowed Great Britain to exert far more control against an admittedly much less physical United Emirates outfit. Team GB operated with greater fluidity from the start. Tom Cleverley was soon marauding forward, impressing with his industry and distribution and linking up Craig Bellamy on the left flank. On the quarter hour mark the hosts took the lead when, from one of Cleverley’s passes, the roles were reversed as Bellamy delivered a magnificent cross and Giggs rose unopposed to head home. UAE offered a sporadic threat when Ahmed Khalil tried to thread a cross into the path of two teammates racing clear to the British goal, but Neil Taylor made a key interception. However, GB were creating most of the chances in the first half and were disappointed not to be further ahead at the break. Ali Khasif denied Bellamy and then saved his side when some quick thinking by Aaron Ramsey presented Cleverley with a chance at close range. The Manchester United midfielder then managed to strike both posts after meeting a Bellamy cut-back with a precise first-time finish.

 

Halftime substitute Sturridge almost had an immediate impact in the game when he was set up by Ramsey, only for Khasif to block his angled shot. The Chelsea striker failed to take another opportunity before UAE briefly sprang to life as Khalil sped down the inside-right channel and let fly, his shot clipping a post with Jack Butland at full stretch. On the hour mark, GB were hit by a sucker punch when their defensive line failed to deal with Omar Abdulrahman’s through-ball, allowing Rashed Eisa to race through and place a low shot past the exposed keeper. The Emirates goal turned what should have been a routine win into a nervy affair. From offering virtually no threat, suddenly every UAE attack had menace. Butland had to be at his best when Khalil received Omar Abdulrahman’s excellent return pass, making a vital block before Micah Richards cleared. With time ticking out, Stuart Pearce took the bold decision to replace Giggs with Sinclair, and the move turned out to be a masterstroke, as the Swansea City winger, with virtually his first touch of the game, was on hand to tap the ball into an empty net after Khasif had palmed away a Bellamy cross. Three minutes later, GB sealed their win when Cleverley swept the ball through to Sturridge, who took two touches before beating the Emirates keeper with an impudent chip from the edge of the area.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: St. James' Park (Newcastle)

DATE: 29-07-2012 (19:45 h)

ATTENDANCE: 26.523

REFEREE: Juan Soto (VEN)

GOALS: 0-1 (Bengtson 7’)

BOOKED: Javi Martínez (31’), Montoya (39’), Mariño [from the bench] (46’), Tello [from the bench] (46’), Muniain (78’), Mata (89’), Botía (90’) / Espinoza (5’), Arnold Peralta (24’), Mendoza (45+’), Garrido (59’), Leverón (78’), Mejía (86’)

SPA

Espa?a

Spain - Honduras

Honduras

HON

0-1 (0-1)

SPAIN

De Gea

Montoya, Botía, Domínguez, Jordi Alba

Javi Martínez (c) (Tello 83’), Koke (A. Herrera 46’), Isco (Rodrigo 66’)

Mata, Adrián, Muniain

COACH: Luis Milla

HONDURAS

Mendoza

A. Peralta, Velásquez, Leverón (c), Figueroa

Najar (Mejía 57’), Garrido, Espinoza (O. Peralta 72’), Crisanto

Martínez, Bengtson (Lozano 81’)

COACH: Luis Suárez

GAME SUMMARY

Top favorites Spain crashed out of the Olympic Tournament after a shocking 1-0 defeat against Honduras. If Luis Milla side was fortunate in their opening game not to receive more goals against a dominant Japan, on this occasion they can consider themselves rightfully unlucky to have lost a game in which they shot 24 times on goal, hit the woodwork three times and had two penalty appeals turned down. A single goal by Jerry Bengtson early into the game was enough for Honduras to claim victory and qualification for the quarterfinals, as a combination of stubborn defense, Spanish misfortune and a controversial refereeing kept La Rojita at bay after an ill-tempered encounter (with thirteen yellow cards shown, two of them to Spanish substitute players at halftime).

 

Spain started in a fairly ominous fashion, attacking with intent, but it was the unfancied Honduras who took the lead with just seven minutes played when Roger Espinoza delivered a masterful cross from the left and Bengtson beat Jordi Alba in the air to head past David de Gea. Although Luis Milla’s side continued to control the possession after the goal, they were struggling to create chances and the Central Americans were looking dangerous on the break. At the end of one Honduran counterattack, Mario Martínez beat Martín Montoya before crossing in for Bengtson, but this time Alberto Botía was able to clear for a corner. After missing out the Japan defeat with injury, young sensation Iker Muniain was looking determined to leave his print on this match, but his forays into the area either lacked the final touch or were well cleared by the defenders. Spain were living life dangerously, and when Javi Martínez conceded a free kick on the left-hand side, his Honduran namesake, Mario, forced De Gea to save well down to his right. Spain gradually worked their way into the game in the late stages of the first half, and Juan Manuel Mata had the best Spanish opportunity with ten minutes left when his sliced left-foot volley spun just wide of the far post. The final chance of the first period also fell to the Chelsea winger, who narrowly missed the very same post with a low curling effort after Isco’s pass.

 

La Rojita continued attacking with intent in the second half, but it was Honduras who nearly doubled their lead in minute 51 when Martínez’s sumptuous cross from the right was headed onto the post by Espinoza, with Bengtson just missing the follow-up. Three minutes later, with the Spaniards swarming all over Honduras, it was Adrián López who hit the bar at the other end. With twenty minutes to go, Spain struck the woodwork again after a brilliant move by the elusive Muniain, who received possession just inside the Honduras half before turning his marker, drifting inside and firing from the edge of the area, only to see his effort bounce off the foot of the post. In minute 72, as the Spanish domination increased, substitute striker Rodrigo Moreno headed Montoya’s cross towards the far side of the goal, but goalkeeper José Alberto Mendoza launched himself into the air and knocked it round the post. Spain was playing some excellent pass-and-move football, but luck just wouldn’t go their way as Ander Herrera slipped a pass through to Adrián, whose shot was saved by Mendoza, and then from the rebound Jordi Alba’s touch was collected by the Honduran goalkeeper. The Atlético de Madrid attacker was involved again a minute later as he surged into the area from the left side and was bundled over from behind by Arnold Peralta, but no penalty was given. Spain hit the frame of the goal for a third time with eight minutes to go as Adrián’s chipped cross evaded Mendoza, but Rodrigo, with the goal at his mercy, could only find the crossbar. The Venezuelan referee Juan Soto denied another penalty appeal when Adrián was once again brought down in the area as he had an open sight on goal. So clear was the penalty this time that the Spanish players lost their cool, with Muniain barging into the referee and Mata earning a yellow card for arguing. As time ran out for Spain, Honduras managed to hold on for a famous victory.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: St. James' Park (Newcastle)

DATE: 1-08-2012 (14:30 h)

ATTENDANCE: 25.201

REFEREE: Bakary Gassama (GAM)

GOALS: 1-0 (Danilo 23’); 2-0 (Leandro Damião 29’); 3-0 (Sandro 52’)

BOOKED: Alex Sandro (71’), Alex Sandro (76’ > RC) / Myers (51’), Hogg (55’)

[Incidents: Alex Sandro was sent off (min. 76).]

BRA

Brasil

Brazil - New Zealand

Aotearoa

NZL

3-0 (2-0)

BRAZIL

Gabriel

Rafael, Thiago Silva (c), Juan, Marcelo

Danilo, Sandro (Rômulo 81’), Lucas, Alex Sandro

Leandro Damião (Oscar 80’), Neymar (Alexandre Pato 76’)

COACH: Mano Menezes

NEW ZEALAND

O’Keeffe

Hogg, Smith, Nelsen (c), Thomas (Myers 46’)

Payne, Barbarouses (Howieson 46’), McGlinchey, Rojas (Lucas 81’)

Smeltz, Wood

COACH: Neil Emblen

GAME SUMMARY

Brazil cruised into the next round with a third group victory, thus completing a clean sheet of victories and reinforcing their role as one of the favorites to win the Olympic Tournament. Danilo da Silva opened the scoring midway the first half and Leandro Damião da Silva doubled the Brazilian advantage before the break. Early in the second half, Tottenham Hotspur’s midfielder Sandro Ranieri added a third goal to cement Brazil’s victory, despite a late dismissal of Alex Sandro Lobo for two bookable offenses.

 

Once the Seleção had secured qualification after beating Belarus in their last game, Mano Menezes decided to rest several key players, including keeper Norberto Neto, Rômulo Borges, Oscar dos Santos, Hulk and Alexandre Pato, so other teammates would have a chance to shine: Gabriel Vasconcellos, Danilo da Silva, Lucas Moura, Alex Sandro and Leandro Damião. Brazil started the game well and immediately controlled possession with accurate passing and good movement. Neymar da Silva showed his predatory instincts to get behind the All Whites’ defense and slot the ball past Michael O’Keeffe, but he was ruled offside. The Santos forward was again in action moments later and should have given his side the lead after great work from Marcelo Vieira, who beat two men before crossing for Neymar, but he was unable to get good contact on the ball and his close-range effort went harmlessly past the post. After weathering the early Brazilian storm, New Zealand began to grow in confidence and created some danger of their own. Winger Marco Rojas produced a decent effort after a lovely run down the left, but his shot was comfortably held by Gabriel. The Kiwis committed more men forward, but this was going to cost them as Brazil hit them on the break and took the lead on 23 minutes through Danilo, who played a one-two with Leandro Damião before surging into the box and lifting the ball over O’Keeffe. The South Americans were simply irresistible at this stage of the game and extended their lead within six minutes, when Alex Sandro ran onto an audacious back-heel by left-back Marcelo and squared the ball for Leandro Damião to tap home into an empty net. As the half wore on, Brazil seemed content knocking the ball around and waiting patiently for chances to come rather than force the issue. Neymar and Leandro Damião had half-chances before the break, but neither threatened the New Zealand goal.

 

The South American team came out in the second half with the same tempo as in the first period, and quickly settled into their passing game as the All Whites sat back to absorb the pressure. Brazil were very comfortable in this state of affairs, and seven minutes after the restart Sandro put the result beyond doubt when, after coasting in at the back post, latched onto a Marcelo free kick and rifled into the bottom corner. Neymar should have made it 4-0 within two minutes, but he failed to tap the ball into an empty net after a Rafael cross from the right, somehow blazing the ball over the bar. The only blight on the game for the Brazilians came when Alex Sandro was sent off after a second yellow card for diving in the penalty area. After being reduced to ten men, Mano Menezes’s team opted to play defensively in order to keep their shape. However, Marcelo almost added a fourth goal with a lob from the edge of the area that went just past the post. Despite playing with a numerical advantage, New Zealand could not muster any clear chance and was eliminated from the tournament.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: Hampden Park (Glasgow)

DATE: 1-08-2012 (14:30 h)

ATTENDANCE: 8.732

REFEREE: Roberto García Orozco (MEX)

GOALS: 1-0 (Salah 56’); 2-0 (Mohsen 73’); 3-0 (Aboutrika 79’); 3-1 (Voronkov 87’)

BOOKED: Kornilenko (90+’)

EGY

???

Egypt - Belarus

Беларусь

BLR

3-1 (0-0)

EGYPT

El-Shenawi

Samir, Hegazi, Ahmed Fathi (Gaber 69’), Ramadan

Aboutrika (c), Ahmed (Mohsen 46’), Hassan, El-Neni

Salah, Moteab (Gomaa 77’)

COACH: Hany Ramzy

BELARUS

Gutor

Kozlov (Voronkov 69’), Kuz’menok, Politevich, Poljakov

Dragun (c), Baga, Bressan (Skavysh 75’), Aleksievich

Kornilenko, Gordejchuk (Solovej 60’)

COACH: Georgij Kondrat’ev

GAME SUMMARY

Second-half goals by Mohammed Salah, Marwan Mohsen and Mohammed Aboutrika helped Egypt defeat Belarus and claim a place in the quarterfinals. The Egyptians, knowing that they needed a win to qualify ahead of their rivals, had a brighter start to the game, with Salah finding Emad Moteab in space, but unfortunately for the Al-Ahly striker he was flagged offside. Then Ahmed Fathi cut inside from the right wing and unleashed a strike that was heading towards the bottom corner, but Aleksandr Gutor went down quickly to save his shot. As the North African team increased their pressure, the Belarusian goalkeeper denied Moteab’s header from just inside the box. Salah then had the best chance of the first half as he got in behind Denis Poljakov, but he somehow managed to put the ball high and wide of Gutor’s goal when it seemed easier for the winger to score. Just before the halftime whistle Belarus could have taken a shock lead as Igor’ Kuz’menok got his head onto a corner from the left by Renan Bressan, but he couldn’t direct his strike on target.

 

The Belarusians started the second half better than they did the first, and nearly claimed an opener as Stanislav Dragun raced in from the halfway line, but Saad el-Din Samir blocked his attempted shot. Egypt should have gone ahead moments later as halftime substitute Mohsen broke the offside trap, but the Petrojet striker wasted the opportunity and had to settle for a corner. The game then swung to the other end, where Sergej Kornilenko managed to get a hold of the ball after Egypt failed to clear a free kick from the left wing, but Islam Ramadan put his body on the line to clear the ball. Then, with eleven minutes gone in the second half, the Pharaohs opened the scoring as Salah sweetly controlled a long ball through the middle and slotted it home beyond the outstretched arms of Gutor. Belarus responded by abandoning the caution they had shown for the first hour, and the Europeans nearly equalized ten minutes later, as Il’ja Aleksievich unleashed a strike from the edge of the area which Ahmed el-Shenawi got down well to palm away, with Kornilenko offside for the rebound. Georgij Kondrat’ev’s side started to push further forward and created real chances, with Dragun going close with a header after a cross from the right by Bressan. However, the Belarusian pressure also made them more susceptible to the Egyptian counterattack, and two flowing moves from the North Africans allowed Mohsen and then Aboutrika the easiest of finishes to secure a deserved victory. With just over a quarter of an hour left in the game, Egypt doubled their advantage as skipper Aboutrika found Ramadan racing down the left wing, and his cross into the area was tucked home by Mohsen. Six minutes later, Aboutrika added the third himself as Omar Gaber unselfishly squared for his captain to tap into an empty net. Although Andrej Voronkov pulled one back with a fine header from a Dmitrij Baga’s corner three minutes from time, it was too little too late for Belarus, who bowed out of their first ever Olympic Tournament at the group stage.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: Millennium Stadium (Cardiff)

DATE: 1-08-2012 (17:00 h)

ATTENDANCE: 40.000

REFEREE: Ravshan Irmatov (UZB)

GOALS: 1-0 (Peralta 69’)

BOOKED: Daprelà (39’), Affolter (45’), Hochstrasser (87’)

MEX

México

Mexico - Switzerland

Schweiz / Suisse

SWI

1-0 (0-0)

MEXICO

Corona (c)

Vidrio (I. Jiménez 46’), Reyes, Mier, Chávez

Enríquez, Salcido, Aquino, Fabián (Ponce 79’)

Giovani (R. Jiménez 84’), Peralta

COACH: Luis Tena

SWITZERLAND

Benaglio (c)

Daprelà, Affolter, Klose, Rodríguez

Zuber(Drmić 61’), Abrashi(Wiss 76’), Kasami(Hochstrasser 85’), Frei

Mehmedi, Emeghara

COACH: Pierluigi Tami

GAME SUMMARY

A single goal by striker Oribe Peralta was enough for Mexico to defeat Switzerland and qualify for the quarterfinals as group winner. The Swiss, who needed a win to have any hope of reaching the last-eight round, enjoyed the better of the opening half. Only seven minutes into the game, Innocent Emeghara seized on a poor pass by Dárvin Chávez and was set for a one-on-one with goalkeeper José de Jesús Corona, but his shot flashed wide of goal. A new defensive mistake in the Mexican backline allowed Emeghara to play in Admir Mehmedi, but he ran out of ideas and Diego Reyes cut out the danger. Past the half hour mark, Corona had to be at his best to palm away a Mehmedi’s shot from outside the area, then Emeghara skewed wide as Switzerland showed the greater urgency. Mexico had their best chance of the period near halftime, after some good interpassing between Peralta and Giovani dos Santos and a shot by the Tottenham Hotspur’s midfielder against Diego Benaglio’s body.

 

The Swiss failure to take their chances was punished by an improved Mexico after the break. Eight minutes into the half, the Mexican fans thought their team had scored the opener when Peralta sent his shot against the side-netting. In minute 67, Jorge Enríquez also came close with a shot from outside the area. Almost immediately, Giovani played Peralta in space and the Santos Laguna attacker fired low under Benaglio to make it 1-0 for Mexico. The goal boosted the Mexican’s confidence as they began to look composed in possession. El Tri continued to surge forward, with Javier Aquino curling a shot just round the post on 79 minutes after an assertive run from the left. Second-half substitute Israel Jiménez nearly extended the Mexican lead in spectacular fashion after 84 minutes, but his powerful, dipping shot was tipped over the bar by Benaglio. Despite needing a win to qualify, Switzerland offered little danger in the late stages of the game, and it was Peralta again who nearly doubled the scoring on 88 minutes, after coming close to following up Benaglio’s tip onto the bar from a fierce Raúl Jimenez shot.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: Wembley (London)

DATE: 1-08-2012 (17:00 h)

ATTENDANCE: 76.927

REFEREE: Pavel Královec (CZR)

GOALS: -

BOOKED: Jung Sung-ryong (82’) / N’Doumbou (61’)

SKR

??

South Korea - Gabon

Gabon

GAB

0-0 (0-0)

SOUTH KOREA

Jung S.R.

Ki S.Y., Hwang S.H., Kim Y.G., Yoon S.Y.

Kim C.S., Baek S.D., Kim B.K. (Ji D.W. 61’), Park J.W. (Nam T.H. 46’)

Koo J.C. (c), Park J.Y. (Kim H.S. 80’)

COACH: Hong Myung-bo

GABON

Ovono (c)

Engonga, Boussougou, Nzambé, Dinda

E. N’Dong, Tandjigora(N’Doumbou 10’), Madinda(Mbingui 66’), Obiang

Méyé (Nono 76’), Aubameyang

COACH: Claude Mbourounot

GAME SUMMARY

Despite being held to a disappointing draw against Gabon, South Korea set up a quarterfinal meeting with Great Britain as Group B runners-up. Only six seconds into the game, a crunching tackle by Park Joo-young on Merlin Tandjigora eventually saw the Gabon midfielder substituted. It was yet another misfortune for the African team, who was already deplenished of players through absences and injuries. Park Joo-young was again in the thick of the action moments later when he latched onto Yoon Suk-young’s lofted ball, but his weak shot rolled in to Didier Ovono’s hands. When a dreadful pass from the Gabonese goalkeeper was intercepted by Baek Sung-dong, Ovono made up for his error by tipping Koo Ja-chul’s shot wide. Although the quality of the South Korean finishing—and their play in general—was being very poor, the Asian team could have taken the lead just before halftime when Baek Sung-dong was denied by a crucial interception from Cédric Boussougou.

 

South Korea continued to dominate after the break, with Baek Sung-dong again wasting a brilliant opportunity after 58 minutes. Lévy Madinda almost made the Asian side pay for their profligacy two minutes later when he found space on the edge of the area before striking a swirling effort that clipped the outside of Jung Sung-ryong’s left-hand post. Substitute striker Ji Dong-won almost had an immediate impact when he shrugged off his marker and crossed for Park Joo-young, but the Arsenal man could not jump high enough to reach the pass. In the last ten minutes of the game, South Korea wasted yet more chances to kill off the match, first Ji Dong-won shooting weakly over the bar, then Kim Hyun-sung skying a scissor-kick.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: City of Coventry Stadium (Coventry)

DATE: 1-08-2012 (17:00 h)

ATTENDANCE: 25.862

REFEREE: Slim Jedidi (TUN)

GOALS: -

BOOKED: Najar (51’), Crisanto (80’)

JAP

日本

Japan - Honduras

Honduras

HON

0-0 (0-0)

JAPAN

Gonda

Yamamura, G. Sakai, Suzuki, Yoshida (c)

Usami, Yamaguchi, Muramatsu

Otsu (Higashi 87’), Sugimoto (Kiyotake 67’), Saito (Nagai 81’)

COACH: Takashi Sekizuka

HONDURAS

Mendoza

Crisanto, Velásquez, Leverón (c), Figueroa

Martínez, Mejía, Najar (Alex López 60’), Garrido

Lozano (O. Peralta 77’), Bengtson

COACH: Luis Suárez

GAME SUMMARY

As expected, Japan and Honduras both qualified for the quarterfinals after a goalless draw. The Honduran, facing a remote possibility of elimination in case of a defeat combined with a Morocco win against Spain in the other group match, showed more enterprise from kick-off and created the best two chances of a low-key opening 45 minutes. In the first one, Shuichi Gonda reacted sharply to hold onto a fierce low drive from Jerry Bengtson, then the Japanese goalkeeper produced an even better reflex save low to his left when a free kick from Maynor Figueroa took a wicked deflection off José David Velásquez.

 

Japan showed more urgency in the second half and Honduras keeper José Alberto Mendoza saved at the feet of Kenyu Sugimoto. Both sides struggled to carve out clear-cut opportunities in this period, but in truth, neither goalkeeper faced any real challenge for much of the second half. Honduras was happy to concede free kicks to hamper Japan as the Asian team looked to set up camp in midfield, and on one occasion the Central Americans almost paid for it. Anticipating a cross, Mendoza crept off his line as Takashi Usami lined up a free kick on the left wing. The Japanese winger over-hit his delivery, forcing the goalkeeper to pedal backwards and acrobatically tip the ball over his bar. In the closing seconds, another Usami set piece found Kazuka Yamamura at the far post, but Mendoza managed to dive to his right to stop his goal-bound header.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: Old Trafford (Manchester)

DATE: 1-08-2012 (17:00 h)

ATTENDANCE: 35.973

REFEREE: Ben Williams (AUS)

GOALS: -

BOOKED: Íñigo Martínez (34’), Mata (44’) / Feddal (39’)

SPA

Espa?a

Spain - Morocco

??????

MOR

0-0 (0-0)

SPAIN

De Gea

Azpilicueta, Botía, Íñigo Martínez, Jordi Alba

Mata, Oriol Romeu, Javi Martínez (c) (A. Herrera 46’), Isco (Tello 56’)

Adrián, Muniain (Koke 66’)

COACH: Luis Milla

MOROCCO

Amsif

Jebbour, Abarhoun, Feddal, Noussir

Bidaoui (El-Hassnaoui 70’), Kharja, Fettouhi (c), Labyad

Barrada, Amrabat

COACH: Pim Verbeek

GAME SUMMARY

After starting the competition as one of the top favorites, Spain embarrassingly bowed out of the Olympic Tournament at the bottom position in their group without having scored a single goal. In another disappointing game to forget, La Rojita failed to live up to expectations and couldn’t go beyond a goalless draw with Morocco, which also ended the faint hopes of the North Africans to qualify for the quarterfinals.

 

The opening 45 minutes was an even affair, although devoid of notable chances and punctuated towards the end by a torrential downpour. The first real opening fell to Morocco in minute 27, when Abdelaziz Barrada fired wide from close range when it appeared easier to hit the target. Four minutes later, Spain had their best opportunity when Juan Manuel Mata played in Adrián López inside the area, only for the Atlético de Madrid striker to hit the post.

 

Fifteen minutes into the second half, Morocco should have taken the lead, but Barrada’s low shot when clean through struck the inside of advancing David de Gea’s right knee. This was followed by four consecutive Spanish chances in seven minutes: first a Mata drive went wide, then Adrián scuffed a one-on-one effort, later Mata again sent a close-range volley over, and finally Oriol Romeu saw Abdellatif Noussir clear his header off the line. However, it was Morocco who nearly took a shock lead late on, when Zakaria Labyad blazed a volley over from point-blank range. Near the end, the North African players lost power as a result of their fasting throughout the day to honor Ramadan, but they held out for a famous draw.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: City of Coventry Stadium (Coventry)

DATE: 1-08-2012 (19:45 h)

ATTENDANCE: 28.652

REFEREE: Svein Oddvar Moen (NOR)

GOALS: 0-1 (Matar 21’); 1-1 (Konaté 49’)

BOOKED: O. Abdulrahman (74’)

SEN

Sénégal

Senegal - United Arab Emirates

???????? ??????? ???????

UAE

1-1 (0-1)

SENEGAL

O. Mané

Touré, Kara, P. Guèye, Souaré

Kouyaté, S. Mané (Yero 83’), Diamé (c), Badji

Konaté (Seck 90+’), M. Guèye (Baldé 46’)

COACHES: Karim Séga Diouf / Aliou Cissé

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

K. Eisa

Fawzi, Ahmed, Al-Kamali, Sanqour

Ismail, O. Abdulrahman, A. Abdulrahman, R. Eisa (Mabkhout 65’)

Matar (c) (Fardan 89’), Khalil (Al-Hammadi 60’)

COACH: Mahdi Redha

GAME SUMMARY

Senegal qualified for the quarterfinals after marksman Moussa Konaté rescued a point against UAE to claim second place behind Great Britain. The Maccabi Tel-Aviv striker scored his fourth goal in the competition early in the second half to cancel out Ismail Matar’s opener.

 

The African Lions started the game in dominant fashion, and came close to taking the lead when Konaté headed wide when unmarked at the far post from a Pape Souaré free kick. The tournament’s top scorer then narrowly failed to connect with a low cross from the overlapping Souaré. However, it was UAE who, much against the run of play, took the lead in minute 21 in their first meaningful attack, when Matar flicked home a low cross from Rashed Eisa. Senegal responded with a double opportunity from Magaye Guèye and Zargo Touré, but both of them had their goal-bound shots blocked.

 

Senegal got back on level terms only four minutes into the second half, when Konaté headed home another testing cross from a lively Souaré. Later, the Senegalese attacker had the chance to put his team in front, but his shot was blocked by the legs of goalkeeper Khalid Eisa. Substitute Ibrahima Baldé then headed wide when unmarked, but UAE held on until the final whistle to claim their first point of the tournament.

 

GROUP STAGE

STADIUM: Millennium Stadium (Cardiff)

DATE: 1-08-2012 (19:45 h)

ATTENDANCE: 70.438

REFEREE: Yuichi Nishimura (JAP)

GOALS: 1-0 (Sturridge 45+’)

BOOKED: Taylor (21’), Ramsey (90+’) / Ramírez (39’), Coates (51’), Suárez (74’), Arias (83’), Lodeiro (83’)

GBR

Great Britain

Great Britain - Uruguay

Uruguay

URU

1-0 (1-0)

GREAT BRITAIN

Butland

Taylor, Richards, Caulker, Bertrand

Ramsey, Allen, Cleverley

Bellamy (c) (Rose 78’), Sturridge (Dawson 90+’), Sinclair (Cork 90+’)

COACH: Stuart Pearce

URUGUAY

Campaña

Arias, Coates, Rolín, Aguirregaray

Ramírez, Rodríguez, Viúdez (Lodeiro 58’), Arévalo Ríos

Cavani, Suárez (c)

COACH: Óscar Tabárez

GAME SUMMARY

A single goal by Daniel Sturridge in first-half injury-time was enough for Great Britain to qualify for the quarterfinals as group winners, whereas Uruguay, so fancied beforehand and so disappointing during the competition, made an early exit to the tournament in typically bad-tempered fashion.

 

As a draw was also a valid result for Team GB, their initial approach to the game was rather cautious. However, Stuart Pearce’s side had the best of the first half, with Aaron Ramsey in a particularly good form. It was the Arsenal midfielder who created the first opening when he flashed a shot across goal narrowly missed by the outstretched legs of Sturridge and Scott Sinclair. Craig Bellamy, named British captain in the absence of rested Ryan Giggs, also came close to turning home Micah Richards’ knock-down. However, as the clock was ticking down towards the interval, Joe Allen wove his way inside the Uruguayan box before drilling a low cross which Sturridge prodded home from close range.

 

After a very disappointing first half, ten minutes after the restart the Uruguayan captain Luis Suárez—once again booed by the British crowd every time he touched the ball—created space for himself inside the area but was foiled by teenage goalkeeper Jack Butland. The 19-year-old guardian did even better when Uruguay attacked again, this time denying Suárez with a full-length fingertip save, with Edinson Cavani sending the rebound into the side-netting. Gastón Ramírez’s effort in injury-time rattled the bar, but it was not to be for Uruguay, who followed the same path as much-billed Spain and crashed out of the competiton at the group stage.

 

1/4 FINAL

STADIUM: Old Trafford (Manchester)

DATE: 4-08-2012 (12:00 h)

ATTENDANCE: 70.772

REFEREE: Mark Geiger (USA)

GOALS: 1-0 (Nagai 14’); 2-0 (Yoshida 78’); 3-0 (Otsu 83’)

BOOKED: Tokunaga (43’) / Samir (RC 41’), Alaa el-Din (78’)

[Incidents: Samir was sent off (min. 41).]

JAP

日本

Japan - Egypt

???

EGY

3-0 (1-0)

JAPAN

Gonda

H. Sakai, Suzuki, Yoshida (c), Tokunaga

Kiyotake (Usami 84’), Yamaguchi, Ohgihara, Otsu

Higashi (G. Sakai 72’), Nagai (Saito 20’)

COACH: Takashi Sekizuka

EGYPT

El-Shenawi

Fathi, Samir, Hegazi, Ramadan

Hassan, Aboutrika (c), El-Neni, Ahmed (Alaa el-Din 45+’)

Salah (Gaber 58’), Moteab (Mohsen 74’)

COACH: Hany Ramzy

GAME SUMMARY

Following the women’s path the day before, Japan qualified for the semifinals of the Olympic Tournament after dispatching Egypt, who ended the game with nine men. Goals from Kensuke Nagai, captain Maya Yoshida and Yuki Otsu secured a ticket in the last-four round for the Blue Samurais, who have played as a solid block after their shock opening win against favorites Spain and haven’t conceded a single goal.

 

In front of a capacity crowd at Old Trafford, Japan started brightly, and Hiroshi Kiyotake had the first opening when he directed a glancing header wide of the post. Daisuke Suzuki should have given his side the lead in the 10th minute, but he somehow managed to miss a close-range effort from a Takahiro Ohgihara’s teasing free kick. It was only a matter of time before the impressive Blue Samurais took the lead though, and they did so in minute 14, when Nagai took advantage of a mix-up between goalkeeper Ahmed el-Shenawi and defender Saad el-Din Samir to push a Kiyotake right-wing cross into an empty net. Minutes later, however, the Japanese goalscorer was injured as Ahmed Hegazi ran into his back, and he had to be replaced by striker Manabu Saito. Having yet to concede a goal in the tournament, Japan seemed content to sit deep inside their own half, as Egypt enjoyed their best spell of possession in the game so far. The Pharaohs’ first foray into the Japanese area came in minute 26, when captain Mohammed Aboutrika beat Hiroki Sakai to a deep cross from the right but he failed to test Shuichi Gonda in the Japan goal. The Asian team did not heed that warning, and moments later Emad Moteab was unfortunate not to haul Egypt level as he fired Ahmed Fathi’s cross the wrong side of the upright. Defender Islam Ramadan was next to threaten for the African side after the half hour mark, but his ambitious volley flew comfortably wide of the post before his dipping free kick drifted narrowly over. However, after their best spell in the game, the Pharaohs suffered a serious blow when they were reduced to ten men just four minutes before the break, as Samir clipped Saito’s heels on the edge of the area and, as last man, was shown a red card.

 

Japan predictably started on the front foot after the restart, and Takahiro Ohgihara rifled his long-range volley into the stands as the Blue Samurais probed for a second goal. Although Egypt offered little in the way of an attacking threat in the second half, the Japanese goalkeeper gave them a glimmer of hope when he spilled a deep cross in the 68th minute. In spite of their numerical superiority, Japan could only score a second goal twelve minutes from the end, when skipper Yoshida met Kiyotake’s free kick with a powerful header. Things went even worse then for Egypt, who was reduced to nine men when Mahmoud Alaa el-Din had to withdraw after picking up an injury with all three substitutes having been used. With just seven minutes remaining, it was 3-0 for Japan when Ohgihara exchanged passes with Kiyotake before sending a perfect left-wing cross for Otsu to head home.

 

1/4 FINAL

STADIUM: Wembley (London)

DATE: 4-08-2012 (14:30 h)

ATTENDANCE: 81.855

REFEREE: Mark Clattenburg (GBR)

GOALS: 1-0 (Enríquez 10’); 2-0 (Aquino 62’); 2-1 (Konaté 69’); 2-2 (Baldé 76’); 3-2 (Giovani 98’); 4-2 (Herrera 109’)

BOOKED: I. Jiménez (73’), Herrera (102’) / Yero (50’), Touré (74’), Souaré (82’), Bâ (115’)

MEX

México

Mexico - Senegal

Sénégal

SEN

4-2 (1-0;2-2)

MEXICO

Corona (c)

I. Jiménez, Reyes, Mier, Chávez

Enríquez, Salcido, Aquino (Herrera 75’), Fabián (Ponce 100’)

Giovani, Peralta (R. Jiménez 107’)

COACH: Luis Tena

SENEGAL

O. Mané

Touré, Ciss (M. Guèye 69’), Bâ, P. Guèye

Kouyaté, S. Mané, Diamé (c) (Kara 90+’), Souaré

Yero (Baldé 60’), Konaté

COACHES: Karim Séga Diouf / Aliou Cissé

GAME SUMMARY

In the best game of the tournament so far, Mexico won a 4-2 thriller against Senegal at Wembley to reach their first olympic semifinal since 1968. El Tri had taken a two-goal lead after an hour, with Jorge Enríquez heading home from a Giovani dos Santos free kick before Javier Aquino tapped the second into an empty net after some poor defending by the African team. A stunning Senegalese comeback, with goals by Moussa Konaté and Ibrahima Baldé, cancelled the Mexican advantage and sent the game into extra-time. In the additional period, two horrible defensive mistakes in the African team were punished by Giovani and Héctor Herrera to book a place in the last-four round.

 

Mexico had a brighter start to the game, and as soon as the third minute Marco Fabián struck the crossbar with the Senegalese defenders rooted to the floor. It took only another seven minutes for the Central American side to score the opener they deserved, when Giovani whipped in an inswinging free kick from the right and Enríquez got in front of everybody to glance a back-header into the far corner of the net. With Mexico looking comfortable on the ball and dominating possession, Senegal had to wait until minute 16 to have their first meaningful approach, with the tournament’s top goalscorer, Konaté, bringing out a smart save from José de Jesús Corona from outside the area. The African team slowly began to come into the game more and more and had a decent effort through Konaté again from a Pape Souaré corner in the 24th minute, which Corona acrobatically turned behind. In what was being an absorbing first half of end-to-end action, Oribe Peralta should have extended the Mexican lead in the 42nd minute after nodding narrowly wide unmarked in the middle of the box from a fine Fabián cross.

 

The second half started at a much slower tempo, with Senegal creating the first opportunity five minutes after the restart, when Cheikhou Kouyaté dragged his shot wide of the left-hand post from outside the area. At the other end, Giovani and Fabián combined brilliantly with a series of one-twos, but they overused their interpassing when close to goal and wasted a gilt-edged chance. Senegal nearly equalized moments later through Souaré, who sent his point-blank header from Zargo Touré’s fabulous cross straight at Corona. However, it was Mexico who extender their lead in minute 62 when Fabián punished more Senegalese dithering in the area with a tackle that set up Peralta, whose shot was saved by Ousmane Mané only for Aquino to knock in the rebound. Senegal responded well and almost pulled one back when Konaté volleyed the ball towards goal from a Souaré cross, but Corona comfortably held on. The African side wouldn’t be denied in their next attack though, almost a carbon copy of the previous move, when Konaté pulled away from his marker to head home a superb Souaré cross. Mexico seemed affected by this blow, and had a major scare when substitute Baldé’s overhead-kicked cross found Sadio Mané unmarked in the middle, but his diving header went just wide of the left-hand post. With fourteen minutes left, however, Senegal completed their comeback when Baldé looped a header from Souaré’s corner into the net. The final chance of the ninety minutes, deep into injury-time, saw Peralta lose his marker at the near post and head over at pace an accurate Giovani cross.

 

With nothing to separate the two sides at the end of regulation, the game was sent into extra-time. Mexico started the additional period full of purpose, and Fabián brought a great save out of Ousmane Mané with a half-volley at the back post. However, the Senegalese guardian was helpless in the 98th minute when Papa Guèye dwelt on the ball and Giovani stole it to coolly slot home past the onrushing keeper. Senegal was still creating chances though, and Sadio Mané’s stinging volley in the 103rd minute from inside the box saw Corona make a stunning save low to his right. The African side then pressed the self-destruct button in the 109th minute, when Abdoulaye Bâ terribly misjudged a header back to his keeper, and although Ousmane Mané handled outside of the area to deny substitute Raúl Jiménez, Herrera was on hand to head the ball into the empty net to restore Mexico’s two-goal advantage.

 

1/4 FINAL

STADIUM: St. James' Park (Newcastle)

DATE: 4-08-2012 (17:00 h)

ATTENDANCE: 42.466

REFEREE: Felix Brych (GER)

GOALS: 0-1 (Martínez 12’); 1-1 (Leandro Damião 38’); 1-2 (Espinoza 48’); 2-2 (Neymar [p.] 51’); 3-2 (Leandro Damião 60’)

BOOKED: Sandro (23’), Rômulo (66’), Leandro Damião (80’), Marcelo (83’) / Velásquez (16’), Espinoza (25’), Crisanto (32’), Crisanto (33’ > RC), A. Peralta (54’), Figueroa (78’), Espinoza (90’ > RC)

[Incidents: Crisanto (min. 33) and Espinoza (min. 90) were both sent off.]

BRA

Brasil

Brazil - Honduras

Honduras

HON

3-2 (1-1)

BRAZIL

Gabriel

Rafael, Thiago Silva (c), Juan, Marcelo

Hulk (Lucas 67’), Sandro (Danilo 42’), Oscar, Rômulo, Neymar

Leandro Damião (Alexandre Pato 89’)

COACH: Mano Menezes

HONDURAS

Mendoza

A. Peralta, Velásquez, Leverón (c), Figueroa

Crisanto, Garrido (Alex López 73’), Espinoza, O. Peralta (Mejía 59’)

Martínez, Bengtson (Lozano 87’)

COACH: Luis Suárez

GAME SUMMARY

Brazil qualified for the semifinals after surviving a major scare against nine-man Honduras. With the Central American side already a man down following Wilmer Crisanto’s dismissal, Leandro Damião da Silva cancelled out Mario Martínez’s stunning opener. Early into the second half, a battling Honduras took the lead again thanks to Roger Espinoza, but Neymar da Silva equalized again from the penalty spot and then Leandro Damião made sure that the Seleção wouldn’t be denied a place in the last-four round.

 

Brazil should have been ahead with just 30 seconds played when Leandro Damião burst free through the middle, but he sent his right-foot shot wide with only goalkeeper José Alberto Mendoza to beat. As the South Americans were growing in confidence, Oscar saw a second-minute effort blocked by Honduras captain Johnny Leverón after some good work by Neymar, who later went close himself. However, the opening goal arrived at the other end after twelve minutes when Espinoza escaped Rafael da Silva and Sandro Ranieri before pulling the ball back for Maynor Figueroa to divert it into the path of Martínez, who thumped a sumptuous dipping volley past helpless keeper Gabriel Vasconcellos. Brazil responded in typically flamboyant fashion, Oscar dos Santos and Neymar almost producing an equalizer when the two attempted to play an intricate one-two, but the Santos striker failed to latch onto the midfielder’s return pass. After the half hour mark, Crisanto was sent-off after collecting two yellow cards in the space of one minute for two mistimed tackles on Brazilian players. The Catrachos were made to pay for their numerical disadvantage five minutes later, when right-back Arnold Peralta failed to clear Hulk’s driven cross and Leandro Damião prodded the ball into an empty net from close range.

 

Only three minutes into the second half, ten-men Honduras hit back when Espinoza cut inside from the right to curl a left-foot shot just inside the far post. Almost immediately, however, Brazil was again on level terms when José David Velásquez tripped Leandro Damião inside the area following a poor pass from Figueroa and Neymar converted the subsequent penalty. On the hour mark, the Brazilians finally took a definitive lead when Neymar played in Leandro Damião, who rolled Leverón and blasted the ball past Mendoza into the bottom corner. The game developed into a scrappy encounter in the last half hour, with few scoring chances and multiple yellow cards shown to players from both sides. The slight hopes that Honduras still had to mount a comeback were ended in minute 90, when Espinoza was sent off for a second yellow card after a cynical trip on Oscar.

 

1/4 FINAL

STADIUM: Millennium Stadium (Cardiff)

DATE: 4-08-2012 (19:30 h)

ATTENDANCE: 70.171

REFEREE: Wilmar Roldán (COL)

GOALS: 0-1 (Ji Dong-won 29’); 1-1 (Ramsey [p.] 36’)

BOOKED: Sturridge (34’), Allen (71’) / Ki Sung-yong (31’), Kim Young-gwon (34’), Oh Jae-suk (34’), Lee Bum-young (120’)

PK: 1-0 (Ramsey); 1-1 (Koo Ja-chul) / 2-1 (Cleverley); 2-2 (Baek Sung-dong) / 3-2 (Dawson); 3-3 (Hwang Suk-ho); 4-3 (Giggs); 4-4 (Park Jong-woo); 4-4 (Sturridge [saved]); 4-5 (Ki Sung-yong)

[Incidents: Ramsey missed a penalty shot (min. 40), saved by Jung Sung-ryong.]

GBR

Great Britain

Great Britain - South Korea

??

SKR

1-1 (1-1;1-1) (pk: 4-5)

GREAT BRITAIN

Butland

Taylor, Richards (Dawson 60’), Caulker, Bertrand

Ramsey, Allen, Cleverley

Bellamy (c) (Giggs 85’), Sturridge, Sinclair (Rose 106’)

COACH: Stuart Pearce

SOUTH KOREA

Jung S.R. (Lee B.Y. 62’)

Kim C.S. (Oh J.S. 7’), Hwang S.H., Kim Y.G., Yoon S.Y.

Nam T.H., Koo J.C. (c), Ki S.Y., Park J.W., Ji D.W. (Baek S.D. 104’)

Park J.Y.

COACH: Hong Myung-bo

GAME SUMMARY

Hosts Great Britain crashed out of the competition after a penalty shoot-out at the end of a tight and tense clash against South Korea. Substitute goalkeeper Lee Bum-young saved Daniel Sturridge’s spot-kick after all eight of the previous penalties had been converted, and Celtic’s midfielder Ki Sung-yong netted the decisive shot to send the Asian Tigers into their first ever olympic semifinal. In a game low on quality but high on drama, Ji Dong-won scored the opener for South Korea near the half hour mark. Although Aaron Ramsey cancelled out the Asian advantage from the penalty spot and almost immediately he missed another spot-kick, Great Britain was unable to break the Korean defense for the rest of the game, and in fact it was the Asian team who proved more threatening.

 

Perhaps intimidated by the capacity crowd at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, the hosts started tentatively, and South Korea took full advantage of it to dominate the opening exchanges. On fifteen minutes, goalkeeper Jack Butland was forced into a flying save to deny Ji Dong-won. The Asian Tigers pinned Team GB back and forced them into conceding corners and fouls deep inside their own half. Ki Sung-yong sent a number of dangerous deliveries into the British area from free kicks, and in one of them, on eighteen minutes, Park Joo-young headed over unmarked. With the half hour mark approaching, South Korea took a deserved lead when Ki Sung-yong’s lay-off found Ji Dong-won in space, and the Sunderland attacker’s swerving strike deceived Butland as it flew into the far corner. Great Britain tried to respond and started to pour forward with greater purpose. When Ryan Bertrand’s scuffed shot struck the arm of a sliding Oh Jae-suk in the Korean area, the Colombian referee Wilmar Roldán called a penalty and Ramsey stepped up to send his kick low under Jung Sung-ryong for the equalizer. The Koreans looked rattled after the British goal, and within five minutes Sturridge went down in the area under the clumsy challenge of Hwang Suk-ho for another penalty kick. Once again Ramsey stepped up, but this time the goalkeeper parried away his tame effort.

 

Both sides started the second half with a more cautious approach. Within four minutes of the restart, Tom Cleverley could have given his team the lead, but he missed Craig Bellamy’s excellent cross at the near post. As the half progressed, fatigue started to take its toll in the South Korean players, who found themselves unable to keep up their high-intensity pressing, giving Great Britain more time to settle into their passing game and craft attacks. On 63 minutes, however, Kim Young-gwon reminded the hosts of the threat Korea still posed with a fierce free kick which flew just over. Two minutes later, a flowing one-touch passing move involving Bellamy and Ramsey set Sturridge racing through on goal, only for Ki Sung-yong to make a superb covering tackle. As the closing stages approached, chances grew fewer and further between. Six minutes from time, Ji Dong-won headed back across goal Ki Sung-yong’s floated ball, but none of his teammates was available in the area to poke the ball in. Although local hero Ryan Giggs was brought in with five minutes of normal time to go, the veteran player was unable to create a decisive breakthrough and the match went into extra-time.

 

In the additional period, it was South Korea who had a brighter start, and Butland had to pull off an excellent save to deny Koo Ja-chul from the angle. Although Ji Dong-won pounced on the goalkeeper’s parry, he could only direct his header well wide. Three minutes before halftime, the Sunderland striker missed an even more glorious headed chance. Another superb Ki Sung-yong corner found Ji Dong-won unmarked near the penalty spot, but he skied his effort high above the crossbar. With both sides too weary to carve each other open and too afraid to take the risk, the contest slid inevitably towards penalties. In the decisive shoot-out, both teams converted their first four kicks, then Sturridge saw his effort saved by substitute goalkeeper Lee Bum-young. Ki Sung-yong had then the responsibility to send South Korea into the semifinals, and he did so by firing his shot high into the net of a helpless Butland.

 

1/2 FINAL

STADIUM: Wembley (London)

DATE: 7-08-2012 (17:00 h)

ATTENDANCE: 82.372

REFEREE: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA)

GOALS: 0-1 (Otsu 12’); 1-1 (Fabián 31’); 2-1 (Peralta 65’); 3-1 (Cortés 90+’)

BOOKED: Fabián (69’) / H. Sakai (58’)

MEX

México

Mexico - Japan

日本

JAP

3-1 (1-1)

MEXICO

Corona (c)

I. Jiménez, Reyes, Mier, Chávez

Enríquez, Salcido, Aquino (Cortés 90’), Fabián

Giovani (R. Jiménez 46’), Peralta

COACH: Luis Tena

JAPAN

Gonda

H. Sakai, Suzuki, Yoshida (c), Tokunaga

Kiyotake (Usami 77’), Yamaguchi, Ohgihara (Saito 83’), Otsu

Higashi (Sugimoto 71’), Nagai

COACH: Takashi Sekizuka

GAME SUMMARY

Mexico qualified for their first olympic final after an excellent comeback against Japan. The Blue Samurais looked set to join their women’s team in setting up a gold medal match when a superb goal from Yuki Otsu gave them an early lead. However, Marco Fabián’s glancing header levelled affairs after the hour mark (in what was the first goal conceded by the Japanese in the tournament). In the second half, Oribe Peralta’s stunning strike was the catalyst to guide Mexico to victory, which was confirmed by Javier Cortés’ late finish.

 

After the superb performances of Mexico and Japan in the quarterfinals, coaches Luis Tena and Takashi Sekizuka named unchanged elevens for this game. The opening stages were a cagey affair, with both teams limited to long-range efforts. Peralta dragged a shot off target for Mexico after a dangerous run from Giovani dos Santos before Hiroshi Kiyotake came even closer for Japan fizzing a drive just wide of José de Jesús Corona’s right hand post. On twelve minutes, the Asians scored the opener when Keigo Higashi sent a pass to Otsu, who took one touch to set himself before crashing an unstoppable half-volley into the top corner. The goal posed a real challenge for Mexico, as it was the first time they trailed in the tournament and they also needed to become the first side to score against Japan. On twenty minutes, Fabián tested Shuichi Gonda with a scuffed shot, then Giovani drilled wide when the ball fell to him from a blocked shot. The Tottenham Hotspur winger had Mexico’s best chance of the game near the half hour mark, but he shot wide when a cross broke to him on the edge of the area. The Mexican pressure finally told in minute 31, when Giovani’s corner was flicked on by Jorge Enríquez at the near post and Fabián glanced his header into the far corner to haul his side onto level terms. With Japan rattled, the lively Giovani burst down the left side of the penalty area, but chipped the ball harmlessly over the crossbar.

 

After the restart, Japan took again control of the game, and the first chance of the second half fell their way, with Takahiro Ohgihara seeing his shot blocked before the rebound was driven well over the bar by Kensuke Nagai when he should have hit the target. However, the game soon degenerated into a midfield battle, with both teams pressing and probing with little to show up front. Then, on 65 minutes, Mexico took the lead with a goal that was both sublime and ridiculous: Gonda had just saved Peralta’s shot, but following the goalkeeper’s throw out, Ohgihara dallied on the ball for far too long and was robbed by Peralta, who drove an unstoppable strike right into the top corner. Ohgihara almost made amends for his mistake with a free kick that was met by Nagai with a looping backheader, forcing Corona to backpedal to tip it over. Although Japan threw on more attackers, they were unable to find a way through the Mexican defense, while the Central Americans looked dangerous on the counterattack. It was from one of those breaks, with Japan overcommitted to the attack, that substitute Cortés held off several weak challenges before firing the ball under Gonda to secure victory for El Tri.

 

1/2 FINAL

STADIUM: Old Trafford (Manchester)

DATE: 7-08-2012 (19:45 h)

ATTENDANCE: 69.389

REFEREE: Pavel Královec (CZR)

GOALS: 0-1 (Rômulo 38’); 0-2 (Leandro Damião 57’); 0-3 (Leandro Damião 64’)

BOOKED: Ji Dong-won (61’)

SKR

??

South Korea - Brazil

Brasil

BRA

0-3 (0-1)

SOUTH KOREA

Lee B.Y.

Oh J.S., Hwang S.H., Kim Y.G., Yoon S.Y.

Nam T.H., Koo J.C. (c) (Jung W.Y. 59’), Ki S.Y., Kim B.K.

Kim H.S. (Park J.Y. 71’), Ji D.W. (Baek S.D. 77’)

COACH: Hong Myung-bo

BRAZIL

Gabriel

Rafael, Thiago Silva (c), Juan (Bruno Uvini 83’), Marcelo (Hulk 76’)

Oscar, Rômulo, Sandro, Alex Sandro, Neymar

Leandro Damião (Alexandre Pato 78’)

COACH: Mano Menezes

GAME SUMMARY

Brazil will have one more chance to win their first olympic title after defeating South Korea in front of a capacity crowd at Old Trafford. An impressive Seleção—with a squad that is envisaged to become the bedrock of their 2014 World Cup campaign on home soil—booked their ticket to the final wth a comfortable 3-0 wn over the Asian Tigers with goals from Rômulo Borges and a brace by Leandro Damião da Silva. The final scoreline belies the efforts of South Korea though, as the Asian team was unlucky not to score at least one goal. However, the surprise semifinalists lacked the creativity Brazil are capable of around the penalty area, and once the South Americans got into their stride, there was no holding them back.

 

Brazil had a slow start to the game, and by the time they found their stride they could easily have been a goal (and a man) down. South Korea had the better of the early stages and created a number of chances that served as a wake-up call to the tournament favourites. After ten minutes, a short Korean corner led to a neat piece of footwork and backpost cross that saw Kim Hyun-sung rise to seemingly head into an empty net, but he was denied by an inadvertent block from Alex Sandro Lobo. The FC Seoul attacker then rose above goalkeeper Gabriel Vasconcellos to force the ball back across the box for the onrushing Ji Dong-won, but he was also denied by an acrobatic clearance by Juan Jesus, who not only averted danger but fortunately avoided conceding a penalty (as he kicked Ji Dong-won in the head with a woefully high tackle). The Sunderland attacker also came close wth a long-range shot that whistled narrowly over. Brazil eventually got into their stride and forced Lee Bum-young into a series of saves, beginning with Leandro Damião’s low left-footed drive from the edge of the box. Within seconds, the Korean goalkeeper was foced to run out of his goal to clear a weak back-pass with a sliding tackle ahead of Leandro Damião on the edge of the area, with Sandro Ranieri’s tame chip from the follow-up being cleared off the line. Brazil continued pressing, and Rômulo sent a precise curling effort that Lee Bum-young pawed into the path of Leandro Damião, but his cross-shot found neither the goal nor a teammate. However, all the good work by the Korean goalkeeper was undone in minute 38, when star duo Neymar da Silva and Oscar dos Santos combined to set up Rômulo, who drilled a low shot under the keeper. The goal was a cruel punishment for South Korea, who had been the best side in the first half but found themselves trailing at halftime.

 

Despite the earlier setback, the Koreans started the second half with the same positive attitude and created more troubles to Brazil. The Asian Tigers were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty as Kim Bo-kyung was tripped by Sandro in the box as he ran to collect a through ball. However, South Korea found themselves two goals down twelve minutes after the restart, when Neymar played a one-two with the galloping Marcelo Vieira on the edge of the area before hitting the byline and sending a cut-back for the waiting Leandro Damião, who smashed the ball across goal. Within seven minutes, it was 3-0 for Brazil when some good work from Neymar and Oscar was ultimately deflected into the path of Leandro Damião, who reacted sharply to toe-poke the ball into the net. After having secured their victory, a much more relaxed Brazilian team offered the kind of samba-football that everyone was expecting from them, with Neymar at the head of operations. In minute 90, a run by the Santos attacker down the left flank and into the box included step-overs, a sudden stop and a beautifully flighted cross that was just misread by Oscar, preventing Brazil from making it 4-0. The final scoreline ensured Brazil’s record of netting three goals in every game of the tournament, and wll certainly make them heavy favorites in the all-American final against Mexico.

 

PLACES 3-4

STADIUM: Millennium Stadium (Cardiff)

DATE: 10-08-2012 (19:45 h)

ATTENDANCE: 56.393

REFEREE: Ravshan Irmatov (UZB)

GOALS: 0-1 (Park Joo-young 38’); 0-2 (Koo Ja-chul 57’)

BOOKED: Ohgihara (43’), Otsu (70’), Sugimoto (88’) / Ki Sung-yong (23’), Oh Jae-suk (26’), Koo Ja-chul (35’), Kim Bo-kyung (90+’)

[Incidents: As all the medal winners, the South Korean players won exemption from the military service thanks to their victory (quite a prize for them, considering the 21-months of duty that their fellow countrymen must do before they are 29, which is a major hurdle faced by many top Korean footballers to pursue a career in European leagues).]

JAP

日本

Japan - South Korea

??

SKR

0-2 (0-1)

JAPAN

Gonda

H. Sakai, Suzuki, Yoshida (c), Tokunaga

Kiyotake, Yamaguchi, Ohgihara (Yamamura 59’), Otsu

Higashi (Sugimoto 62’), Nagai (Usami 71’)

COACH: Takashi Sekizuka

SOUTH KOREA

Jung S.R.

Oh J.S., Hwang S.H., Kim Y.G., Yoon S.Y.

Koo J.C. (c) (Kim K.H. 90’), Ki S.Y., Kim B.K., Park J.W.

Park J.Y. (Kim H.S. 86’), Ji D.W. (Nam T.H. 69’)

COACH: Hong Myung-bo

GAME SUMMARY

South Korea won their first-ever olympic football medal after defeating arch-rivals Japan in the consolation final. Arsenal striker Park Joo-young set the Asian Tigers on their way with a superb solo effort in the 38th minute before captain Koo Ja-chul sealed the victory twelve minutes into the second half. Although Japan enjoyed most of the possession, they found it tough to break down a well-organized Korean rearguard.

 

Japan named an unchanged eleven from the semifinal, whereas South Korea made three changes to the team that lost 3-0 to Brazil, including the first-choice goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong after recovering from injury. The game began with both sides playing with intensity and struggling to keep the ball on a slightly irregular pitch. Although the Koreans enjoyed more possession in the opening stages, neither side managed to create any real openings in the first fifteen minutes. After a difficult start, Japan slowly settled in the game, and the first scoring opportunity fell to them in minute 27, when Hiroshi Kiyotake tried to curl a shot around Jung Sung-ryong, but the Korean keeper managed to push the ball clear. After 34 minutes, some minor scuffles sparked between the two teams when Koo Ja-chul brought Yuki Otsu down with a nasty tackle in front of the Japanese bench. Two minutes later, Hiroki Sakai found himself unmarked from a corner, but could only put his header wide of the post. However, it was South Korea who took the lead almost immediately when Park Joo-young seized on a poor defensive header to brilliantly turn Daisuke Suzuki and fire low beyond Shuichi Gonda. Although the Korean goal was slightly against the run of play, the Asian Tigers had a chance to double their lead just a minute later, as the ball dropped to left-back Yoon Suk-young inside the penalty area, but he sent his shot off target.

 

Four minutes into the second half, it was Park Joo-young who could have made it 2-0 for South Korea when he nearly latched onto a poor backpass, but Gonda came out quickly to avert the danger. Japan had a golden opportunity to equalize in the 55th minute when Otsu scuffed his shot after linking with Keigo Higashi. That miss was punished seconds later when Ji Dong-won flicked on goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong’s punt downfield into the path of Koo Ja-chul, who controlled the ball and calmly shot across Gonda to give his side a 2-0 lead. With the Blue Samurais clearly rattled, in minute 59 the Japanese goalkeeper managed to tip Kim Bo-kyung’s curling effort onto the post to keep his side’s hopes of a comeback. The game then turned into a midfield battle, with both teams unable to keep ball possession for a significant amount of time. Japan pushed forward in search of a way back into the game, but their hopes of setting up a tense finish ended when Maya Yoshida’s header from a corner was ruled out for a block on Jung Sung-ryong with three minutes to go.

 

FINAL

STADIUM: Wembley (London)

DATE: 11-08-2012 (15:00 h)

ATTENDANCE: 86.162

REFEREE: Mark Clattenburg (GBR)

GOALS: 1-0 (Peralta 1’); 2-0 (Peralta 75’); 2-1 (Hulk 90+’)

BOOKED: Reyes (46’), I. Jiménez (58’), Vidrio (89’) / Marcelo (42’), Leandro Damião (90+’)

[Incidents: Oribe Peralta scored the fastest goal in the history of olympic finals, only 28 seconds after kick-off.]

MEX

México

Mexico - Brazil

Brasil

BRA

2-1 (1-0)

MEXICO

Corona (c)

I. Jiménez (Vidrio 81’), Mier, Reyes, Chávez

Herrera, Salcido, Fabián, Enríquez, Aquino (Ponce 57’)

Peralta (R. Jiménez 86’)

COACH: Luis Tena

BRAZIL

Gabriel

Rafael (Lucas 85’), Thiago Silva (c), Juan, Marcelo

Sandro (Alexandre Pato 71’), Rômulo, Alex Sandro (Hulk 32’), Oscar

Neymar, Leandro Damião

COACH: Mano Menezes

GAME SUMMARY

The Brazilian curse in the Olympic Football Tournament struck again at London 2012 when the highly-favored Seleção lost 2-1 to Mexico, who achieved the greatest triumph in their history with a gold medal (in fact, the first medal of any kind for the Central American team). The veteran Santos Laguna striker Oribe Peralta wrote his name into Mexican folklore with two goals—the first of them the fastest one in olympic finals since FIFA started tracking records back in 1976, only matched by Milan Galić’s first-minute opener in 1960. Despite Hulk pulling a goal back in injury-time and Oscar dos Santos missing a last-gasp header, Brazil were a shadow of the attacking force that had scored 15 goals en route to the final and displayed the defensive frailty that has long dogged them.

 

El Tri got off to a dream start when, only 28 seconds into the game, Rafael da Silva’s careless pass was intercepted by Javier Aquino and the ball broke for Peralta to race goalward unchallenged and drive a low shot to the near post. It was not the first time Brazil had been behind in the tournament, and they might have levelled in the 13th minute when Thiago Silva headed Neymar da Silva’s free kick over. In minute 20, Oscar also should have done better than firing straight at José de Jesús Corona when he was allowed to turn and shoot from close range. Despite their ball possession, Brazil was unusually sloppy in this game and found it hard to penetrate a fiercely committed Mexican backline. Past the half hour mark, Mano Menezes introduced Porto attacker Hulk for midfielder teammate Alex Sandro Lobo, and the substitute almost caught out Corona with a piledriver from distance, but the Mexican goalkeeper recovered well to foil Leandro Damião da Silva’s rebound. Left-back Marcelo Vieira then flashed wide from Leandro Damião’s lay-off. The impressive Hulk was making a real impact in the game, winning a free kick that Rômulo Borges ultimately glanced wide in first-half stoppage-time.

 

Brazil was again on the front foot as the second half began, but Mexico harried and harassed the Seleção, putting them out of their usual stride. Neymar went close when he blazed a shot over from inside the box, but Luis Tena’s side weathered the storm and, against the run of play, were unlucky not to double their lead in the 64th minute when Marco Fabián robbed Thiago Silva on the right flank and raced to goal; although Gabriel Vasconcellos came rushing out to palm the ball away, the Mexican striker latched onto the rebound and produced an overhead kick that struck the crossbar. Leandro Damião had a good chance nicked off his toe and then powered a free header wide from a corner before Peralta rightly had a second goal ruled out for offside. Fabián almost made it 2-0 for Mexico when he nodded over Jorge Enríquez’s flick-on from a corner, but fifteen minutes from time the Guadalajara attacker made amends for his miss when he sent a free kick from the right flank that an unmarked Peralta netted with a bullet header. Although Brazil continued attacking, they were constantly frustrated by a determined Mexican defense. Thiago Silva failed to connect properly in a flick-on from a corner, but the Seleção was showing little sign of a remarkable comeback and even began arguing amongst themselves, with Rafael and Juan Jesus involved in a furious exchange. In injury-time, Mano Menezes’ team finally pulled one back when Hulk raced onto a long ball from Marcelo to rifle low under Corona’s legs. The Seleção almost grabbed an improbable equalizer when Oscar was left unmarked at the near post, but could only direct his header over the bar. However, it was not to be for Brazil, who extended their jinx in the Olympic Tournament just when everyone thought the five-time world champions were destined to end their agonizing wait for the gold (after two silver medals and two bronze), two years ahead of their World Cup. For Mexico, it was the perfect end to a dreamy tournament in the best possible scenario, a fully packed Wembley.

 

 

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