THE DAY REPLAYED - On the opening day of the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament, Brazil showed why they are considered among the favourites to take gold. Against Egypt the South American heavyweights were dazzling at times, even if they did ease off somewhat in the second half of a 3-2 win. Uruguay also underlined their title ambitions with a comeback victory over United Arab Emirates.
Japan pulled off the surprise of the day with an impressive performance to beat reigning world and European senior men's champions Spain. Hosts Great Britain, for their part, also suffered a setback and could only manage a draw against Senegal despite leading for much of the match.
Elsewhere, tournament newcomers Belarus enjoyed the perfect start with a narrow victory over New Zealand, while fellow debutants Gabon were also celebrating at the final whistle as they held Switzerland to a draw. The spoils were also shared in the matches between Mexico and Korea Republic, as well as Honduras against Morocco.
Goal of the day
Honduras - Morocco, Abdelaziz Barrada (39’)
Abdelaziz Barrada’s strike for Morocco against Honduras was not only the first goal of the tournament, but it was also an absolute cracker. After Zakaria Labyad’s nod down to the edge of the box, Morocco’s No10 smashed an unstoppable half-volley into the corner past Honduras goalkeeper Jose Mendoza.
The match between Gabon and Switzerland had spectators rubbing their eyes in disbelief when the African side brought on Axel Meye for Allen Nono. Both players' look was extremely similar, even down to their Mohican haircuts. The only difference was that Nono’s crop was dyed blonde, while his replacement had opted for red.
Japan’s ‘home game’ in Scotland
Even in Glasgow’s Hampden Park stadium, the Japanese team enjoyed a partisan atmosphere as their numerous fans’ passionate vocal support rubbed off on the neutrals. Two spectators dressed as cheerleaders worked the crowd into a frenzy with dance moves, flags and balloons and the number of Japanese supporters in the ground soon swelled. By the time the final whistle came, there were wild celebrations as the Asian nation surprisingly defeated highly fancied Spain.
Fans in football fever
However, it was not only in Glasgow where fans were caught up in Olympic football fever. In Newcastle the colourfully dressed Korea Republic supporters defied the rain to drum and dance with fervour. In Coventry, a Mexican wave did the rounds for several minutes during the match between Belarus and New Zealand, while at a sold-out Old Trafford spectators made sure the refreshment stands had trouble keeping up with demand.
Stat of the day
52 - Great Britain’s last goal at an Olympic Football Tournament was scored by Patrick Hasty on 1 September 1960 in a 3-2 victory over Chinese Taipei. Craig Bellamy ended the drought 52 years later to put Team GB in front, but it was not enough to secure them an opening win.
“It feels good to have beaten Spain. We have never beaten them before at any level. We look forward to now trying to get to the next stage [of the tournament]," Japan striker Kensuke Nagai.
Sunday 29 July (all times given are local)