Great Britain went to the top of Group A following a 3-1 win over United Arab Emirates at Wembley Stadium on Sunday thanks to two goals in three minutes from substitutes Scott Sinclair and Daniel Sturridge.
Team GB probably deserved the win which was watched by Prince William, Roy Hodgson and David Beckham, but UAE had their chances to cause an upset, particularly after Madhi Redha’s side equalised after 60 minutes.
Both sides had a couple of half-chances early in the game, but Great Britain took their first real opportunity in the 16th minute. Ryan Giggs passed the ball to Cleverley, who set up Bellamy on the left wing. The Welshman's swerving cross was then headed home by Giggs at the far post, making the Manchester United veteran him the oldest player to score in a Men’s Olympic Football Tournament.
But the west Asians had their chances too. Ahmed Khalil went close with an angled shot and Khamis Esmaeel fired over as Team GB were forced on the back foot.
The Giggs-Bellamy-Cleverley axis worked well again, with Bellamy forcing a good stop from Ali Khaseif at his near post. Minutes later, Ramsey’s quick free-kick caught the UAE defence sleeping as he tried to find Bellamy, but Ali Khaseif was alert to the danger and made a crucial stop.
The hosts were dreadfully unlucky not to double their advantage on the stroke of half-time when a quick break saw Bellamy charge down the left and pull the ball back to Cleverley, whose left-footed shot hit both posts before bouncing out.
Stuart Pearce brought Daniel Sturridge on at half-time and the Chelsea man almost scored in the 53rd minute when he brought a smart save from Ali Khaseif.
However, UAE equalised on the hour when Khamis Esmaeel played a defence-splitting through ball into the path of Rashed Eisa, who fired an unstoppable shot past Jack Butland.
The goal gave Redha’s team a great sense of purpose and they dominated the following ten minutes. They could have even taken the lead when James Tomkins almost deflected Rashed Eisa’s shot into his own net, but the ball went narrowly wide. Butland also had to be alert to save from Ahmed Khalil.
Goalscorer Giggs made way for Scott Sinclair in the 72nd minute and 60 seconds later the latter found himself on the scoresheet. Ali Khaseif could only parry Bellamy’s cross from the right into the path of the sub, and he made no mistake from close range.
Team GB doubled their advantage three minutes later. Cleverley found Sturridge with a delightful ball and the Chelsea forward’s delicate chip sailed over the keeper and into the net.