Thursday, 26 July 2012

La Roja go down to Japan

Japan beat defending World and European champions Spain 1-0 on the first day of the men's Olympic football tournament on Thursday, while Brazil held on for a 3-2 victory over Egypt. 

In other matches, Uruguay and Belarus also won as the tournament got under way with eight matches a day before Friday's opening ceremony. 

Japan pulled off the upset after outplaying gold-medal favorite Spain, which went a man down in the first half and couldn't fight back. 

They got the winner in Glasgow when forward Yuki Otsu broke away from his marker during a corner in the 34th minute and the ball landed right at his feet for a simple tap-in past Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea. 

Spain was reduced to 10 men just a few minutes after the goal when center back Inigo Martinez was sent off for a foul while trying to stop a Japanese player from scoring. 

"It was an important win for us," Japan captain Maya Yoshida said. "Spain are a very strong team in the group and we played well against them. We worked really hard and we will enjoy our victory. We can get a lot of confidence from this." 

The La Roja has two more matches to turn it around, against Group D opponents Honduras and Morocco, which drew 2-2 in Newcastle. 

"Our aim is to win both of them. We have to," said Spain forward Juan Mata, who is one of the three overage players. "We need to improve some things and we have to play better." 

In Cardiff, Brazil got goals from Manchester United's Rafael in the 16th, Leandro Damiao in the 26th and Neymar in the 30th to earn a comfortable halftime lead before Egypt made it interesting with goals by captain Mohamed Aboutrika in the 52nd minute and substitute Mohamed Salah in the 76th minute. 

Brazil leads Group C along with Belarus, which beat New Zealand 1-0 in Coventry with a first-half goal by Dmitry Baga. 

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