THE DAY REPLAYED - Stellar performances from some of the competition’s biggest stars and the shock elimination of one of the pre-tournament favourites made for a dramatic day of men’s action at London 2012. The headline event was Spain suffering a second successive 1-0 defeat, this time at the hands of Honduras, to leave their star-studded team consigned to elimination regardless of what happens in their final match against Morocco.
Brazil and Japan, La Roja’s opening-match conquerors, face a very different situation in their third group encounters, as both today secured their spots in the quarter-finals thanks to victories over Belarus and Morocco respectively. Korea Republic, Mexico, Senegal and the giant-killing Hondurans are all well placed to join them after hard-earned victories, while Great Britain ended a winless run of 11 matches for Olympic host nations by seeing off UAE in front of a raucous Wembley crowd.
Captain Ryan Giggs led by example for Team GB with the opening goal, and today’s high-stakes matches seemed to bring about the best in a clutch of the tournament’s biggest names, with Neymar at his brilliant best for Brazil and Giovani dos Santos riding to the rescue for Mexico.
Senegal 2-0 Uruguay
Great Britain 3-1 United Arab Emirates
Mexico 2-0 Gabon
Korea Republic 2-1 Switzerland
Goal of the day
Brazil-Belarus, Neymar (65’)
Old Trafford has seen some magnificent free-kicks down the years, but few better than Neymar’s exquisite effort against Belarus this afternoon. Shooting into the Stretford End goal that witnessed David Beckham’s most famous set piece - an iconic 93rd-minute winner for England against Greece - the Santos prodigy confirmed his penchant for the spectacular by finding the same top-left corner from a similar distance of 30 yards.
Heroes and villains
There was a pantomime feel to Wembley’s first match of the day, with the supposedly neutral crowd making it abundantly clear where their loyalties lay as ten-man Senegal claimed a shock 2-0 win over Uruguay. That spelled bad news for Luis Suarez, who was booed throughout, and ensured an afternoon to remember for Sadio Mane, the little-known Metz winger whose old-fashioned dribbling skills earned him the acclaim of the British fans.
Honduras stun St James's
The fact that Spain are already out of the Olympics without a single point, or indeed a goal, would have been a remarkable enough outcome to today’s second match at St James’s Park. However, with the fatal blow coming from Honduras, a nation that has never survived the group stage at a major tournament, this became one of the biggest upsets the competition has ever seen. Los Catrachos are now firmly on course to reach the quarter-finals and lift what they described ahead of London 2012 as a first-round “curse”.
Wembley hails record-breaking Giggs
Substitute Scott Sinclair scoring with his first touch might have dominated the British back pages on another day, but tomorrow’s newspapers seem certain to be adorned by the face of Ryan Giggs. The evergreen Welshman delighted a packed Wembley by heading Great Britain in front and, in doing so at the age of 38 years and 243 days, became the oldest goalscorer in the tournament's history, smashing the record set in 1924 by 37-year-old Egyptian Hussein Hegazi.
Stat of the day
2 – No substitute had ever scored a double at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament before Giovani Dos Santos shot his way into the history books today by coming off the bench to grab both goals in Mexico’s 2-0 win over Gabon.
Wednesday 1 August (all times given are local)
Senegal-United Arab Emirates, Coventry, 19.45
Great Britain-Uruguay, Cardiff, 19.45
Mexico-Switzerland, Cardiff, 17.00
Korea Republic-Gabon, London, 17.00
Brazil-New Zealand, Newcastle, 14.30
Egypt-Belarus, Glasgow, 14.30
Japan-Honduras, Coventry, 17.00
Spain-Morocco, Manchester, 17.00