Mixed results for big guns, hosts make winning start
Most recent winners Brazil and Mexico shine
Australia shock Argentina, hosts Japan make winning start
FIFA.com review the results and news from opening men’s Olympic action
It is always important to open with a win and in that sense Brazil and Mexico not only claimed three points, but made a statement of intent with their respective performances. Down Under pair Australia and New Zealand were also in the winner’s circle, the former stunning 2004 and 2008 kings Argentina.
There were also wins for hosts Japan and a drought-breaking result for Romania on their return after a long absence. FIFA.com wraps up the opening day at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020.
Results Group A Japan 1-0 South Africa Mexico 4-1 France
2012 gold medallists Mexico made a statement of intent with a high-energy win over France. Goals either side of half-time had El Tri on their way and though Andre-Pierre Gignac pulled a goal back, late goals blew out the scoreline for a deserved victory. Japan looked largely in control from the outset against an undermanned but resilient South Africa, leaving the hosts to rely on poster-boy Takefusa Kubo - playing at his former Tokyo FC home - to deliver a superb second-half winner. Group B New Zealand 1-0 Korea Republic Honduras 0-1 Romania
Korea Republic had the better of a fairly cagey affair, before New Zealand took the lead through Chris Wood midway through the second half to collect a maiden win in their third Olympic campaign. That result blew the group wide open, and Romania also enjoyed an opening win with a hard-fought 1-0 triumph over Rio 2016 semi-finalists Honduras – their first in Olympic football since 1964. Group C Egypt 0-0 Spain Argentina 0-2 Australia
Spain completely dominated possession but were unable to capitalise on several openings, notably Dani Ceballos hitting the post from range, while Egypt barely managed to get forward in a match with limited opportunities.
That result allowed an opportunity for a team to take outright lead of the group and unexpectedly perhaps, it was Australia who did so at the expense of the two-time champions. Goals in each half from Lachie Wales and Marco Tilio, scoring just seconds after entering the match, settled an entertaining encounter, with Argentina hampered after being reduced to ten men just before half-time. Group D Côte d'Ivoire 2-1 Saudi Arabia Brazil 4-2 Germany
Côte d'Ivoire made a triumphant return to Olympic Football after a 13-year absence, with Franck Kessie netting a 66th-minute winner after the score was level at the break. Richarlison shone like a beacon with a quickfire first-half treble although trademark German reliance made for a tense finish before Brazil iced the cake late on.
Memorable moments Elite company Two players who took the field on Thursday are members of a rare club and it was a happy day for both. Brazil captain Dani Alves and New Zealand goalscorer Chris Wood have both played at FIFA Youth World Cups, FIFA Confederations Cups, FIFA World Cups and the Olympic Games. Making memories Restrictions mean few opportunities for spectators at Tokyo 2020, but there were up to 1,000 local schoolchildren (6-12 years old) in attendance in Kashima. The initiative, which will continue on two more matchdays, means the youngsters will always be able to say they attended the 2020 Olympic Games. Franco-Mexican connection Frenchman Andre-Pierre Cignac is a certified legend in Mexico where his goalscoring at Tigres seems to have few boundaries. Much focus was on the big veteran striker and he enjoyed a mixed day, scoring his first international tournament goal but could do little as Les Bleus crashed to a 4-1 defeat.
A six-decade wait It’s not often that one has the opportunity to break a 57-year drought. But that's what happened in Kashima for Romania on their Olympic football return since last appearing at, of all places, Tokyo 1964. Olympic hunger Brazil star Richarlison was desperate to join the squad at Tokyo 2020 and that hunger was soon evident. The blonde-tipped wide-man scored a hat-trick, incredibly inside the opening half-hour.
Quote of the day “There’s no words to describe it. My first hat-trick and to do it in this shirt, it’s incredible. This is why I asked Everton so much for my release. It’s an unforgettable night. I will never forget it.” Brazil’s Richarlison Matchday 2 fixtures Egypt-Argentina Sapporo Dome, 16:30 (local time) New Zealand-Honduras Ibaraki Kashima Stadium, 17:00 France-South Africa Saitama Stadium, 17:00 Brazil-Côte d'Ivoire International Stadium Yokohama, 17:30 Australia-Spain Sapporo Dome, 19:30 Romania-Korea Republic Ibaraki Kashima Stadium, 20:00 Japan-Mexico Saitama Stadium, 20:00 Saudi Arabia-Germany International Stadium Yokohama, 20:30
Alexis Vega of Team Mexico battles for possession with Teji Savanier of Team France
CHOFU, JAPAN - JULY 22: Alexis Vega #11 of Team Mexico battles for possession with Teji Savanier #11 of Team France during the Men's First Round Group A match between Mexico and France during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium on July 22, 2021 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Alex Grimm - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Ayman Yehia of Team Saudi Arabia is challenged by Franck Kessie of Team Ivory Coast
SAITAMA, JAPAN - JULY 22: Ayman Yehia #15 of Team Saudi Arabia is challenged by Franck Kessie #8 of Team Ivory Coast the Men's First Round Group D match between Cote d'Ivoire and Saudi Arabia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at International Stadium Yokohama on July 22, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Buda Mendes - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)